With so much nutrition advice out there, it’s easy to get confused. In February this year, new Australian Dietary Guidelines were launched to provide up-to-date advice about the amounts and kinds of foods people need to eat for health and wellbeing. The Dietary Guidelines are put together by the Australian Government’s peak body for health research and advice and are based on an extensive review of scientific research so are more reliable than many other sources of dietary advice.

A cardio defender

Dairy foods have long been known for their role in bone health but research over the last decade has demonstrated that consumption of dairy foods is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The new Dietary Guidelines recognize that consuming milk, yogurt and cheese can also protect us against heart disease and related conditions such as stroke and risk of high blood pressure. Other foods that help to protect against heart disease include fruit and vegetables, grain foods (mostly whole grain) and fish.

"It is estimated that a startling nine out of ten Australian women and more than seven out of ten Australian men fail to meet their new minimum dairy recommended intake."

As a result of the updated research evidence, the recommended amount of milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives to consume each day has been increased for most of the population compared with previous guidelines.

The power of dairy

It is now recommended that women consume at least 2.5 serves a day up to the age of 50 years and four serves a day once they are over 50 years. For men, the recommended amount is now 2.5 serves a day up to the age of 70 years and 3.5 serves once they are over 70. Teens should consume 3.5 serves a day. The guidelines advise that more than 50 percent of intake should be reduced-fat varieties. A serve is equivalent to a cup (250ml) of milk, three-quarters of a cup (200g) yogurt and two slices (40g) of cheese.

Unfortunately, most Australians are missing out on the health benefits that come with consuming milk, yogurt and cheese as they don’t include enough in their diet. There is currently a huge gap between the recommendations for the milk, yogurt, cheese and/ or alternatives food group and actual intake. It is estimated that a startling nine out of ten Australian women and more than seven out of ten Australian men fail to meet their new minimum recommended intake.

The Dietary Guidelines have re-evaluated the health benefits of dairy foods. Is it time you did too? How many servings did you have yesterday?

Try these ideas to incorporate more milk, yogurt and cheese into your daily diet: 

  • Grab a caffè latte on the way to work.
  • Have a bowl of fruit and yogurt for breakfast or after a workout. 
  • Include cheese in a salad or sandwich.
  • Dollop natural yogurt to finish off a Mexican dish or top a jacket potato. 
  • Enjoy a warm milk drink before bed. 
  • Put together a cheese and fruit platter when entertaining friends.