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Dairy Products

Milk and its products, such as Yogurt, and cheese constitute major dairy products. They are considered to be the main dietary source of calcium, which is an essential element for good health and bone and teeth density, particularly in children.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the daily recommended calcium intake is 500 to 1300 milligrams for children, 1000 milligrams for adults, and 1200 milligrams for older people. These amounts could be obtained with approximately one serving of dairy product per meal.

Dairy products
Fresh milk and its products.

List of dairy products along with the illustration of their nutrition facts and health benefits:

american cheese slices
American cheese
Brie cheese
cheddar cheese
colby cheese
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese
Cream cheese
feta cheese
Halloumi cheese
Milk nutrition
mascarpone cheese
muenster cheese
parmesan cheese
provolone cheese
ricotta cheese
swiss cheese
Swiss cheese/a>


It is the nutritious liquid produced by the mammary glands of female mammals. Cow's milk is the most widely used, but sheep, goat, buffalo, and camel milk may also be consumed.

The consumption of cow's milk and dairy products is common in United States, Canada, Western and Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.


It is a clear white liquid with a sour taste that separates from the cream while making butter. it is also produced by churning curd, by culturing skim or low-fat milk with a lactic acid culture.

Buttermilk has a thin consistency than that cream. When left to stand, it separates into two layers; the lighter Layer is made from whey and the heavier from casein that has curdled into fine lumps.


The cream is the milk-fat that rises to the surface of non-homogenized milk created during the first stage of making butter.

Sour Cream: It is cream that deliberately set to attain sour flavor. Sour cream is made from pressurized cream that is formatted using a bacterial culture. It is smooth and even texture.


Butter is a concentrated form that is completely composed of fats in the milk. It is a fatty, semi-solid substance with a greasy texture made by churning cream.

Butter is mostly made from cow's milk. It consists of 80% milk fat and is graded by a similar standard as milk with consideration to flavor, texture, color, and salt content.


Yogurt is a culture inoculated fermentation product of milk. It is made from cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo, to which bacterial cultures are added that convert part of the lactose into lactic acid. The milk coagulates when enough lactic acid is produced to result in the end product, yogurt.


A product obtained from coagulating and draining milk, cream, or a mixture of the two. The quantity, nutritional value, and characteristics of cheese vary according to the type of milk used (cow, goat, sheep, buffalo), the method of production (fresh or ripened), and local preferences.

Cheeses are generally classified according to their firmness:

Fresh cheeses are curdled through the action of lactic acid bacteria. They are unripened (not-aged) and should be eaten quickly. Cottage, ricotta, mascarpone, Petit Suisse, etc., are some examples of fresh cheeses. They are generally low-fat (1-10% fat), low-energy foods. They become high in fat and energy when the cream is added (in the case of cream cheese -34% fat).

Soft cheeses are ripened for a relatively short period, drained and molded. Fats make up 20-26% of the weight of the cheese. The fermentation process begins on the surface of the cheese and moves towards the center.

Soft cheeses are divided into two categories.

  1. Bloomy rind cheeses are covered with a thin layer of mold, with a velvety appearance. Examples: Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers cheese). This rind is edible but should be removed if its taste is too strong.

  2. Washed-rind cheeses are cheeses that undergo light brine washes. Examples include Livarot, Munster, Bel Paese, etc). They have a delicate flavor and intense aroma.

The semi-firm cheeses are pressed, uncooked cheeses that undergo quite a long ripening period. These cheeses (Cheddar, Cantal, Gouda, Edam, Monterrey Jack, Tilsiter, etc.) have a denser consistency and a pale yellow interior.

Firm cheeses (hard cheeses) are cheeses that are pressed and cooked. These cheeses (Emmental, Beaufort, Parmesan, Romano, etc.) may or may not possess a hard rind. The texture of the interior is generally firm, but sometimes very grainy, as in the case of parmesan and romano.

Blue cheeses are those whose curd is first broken into pieces, molded, drained, salted, and then fermented with molds. Fermentation begins on the inside and moves toward the outside. The whole network of blue-green veins forms through the action of the molds and becomes denser over time. These cheeses have a peppery, strong, sharp taste and unusually crumbly texture.

Health benefits of Milk and its products

  1. Milk and its products occupy an important place in the overall health and well-being. Milk is indispensable food as it is plentiful, inexpensive and very nutritious, being an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

  2. Dairy products nutrition is complete in the sense that it composes all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, which encourage muscle growth, especially in children.

  3. Milk protein is particularly rich in amino acid lysine, which makes milk a good supplement to creal grains, nuts and seeds.

  4. Lactose accounts for 97% of the carbohydrates in milk. Much of it, however, converted into easy digesting lactic acid after fermentation as in yogurt, cheeses and buttermilk.

  5. Dairy items, being derived from milk, naturally rich source of calcium. Calcium provides ensures proper teeth development, acts on the functioning of the heart cells, nerves and muscles, encourages bone growth and plays a role in the prevention of osteoporosis, possibly, colorectal cancer and hypercholesterolemia.

  6. All dairy items are in fact good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, pyridoxine, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin-B12, magnesium and Zinc.

  7. Apart from calcium, dairy products also excellent in magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

  8. Natural grass-fed cow's milk is a rich source of vitamin-A and β-carotene. β-carotene is the pigment responsible for the yellow colour of milk, more noticeable in butter.

  9. It is, furthermore, considered that for the overall population, there is a greater risk of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin-D (in fortified milk) and Vitamin-B12 deficiencies if dairy products, particularly milk, are not part of the daily diet.

Buying and storage

Milk and other dairy products occupy an important place in the cuisines of several countries, especially western countries. Cow's milk is usually sold pasteurized, homogenized, and in some cases sterilized, whole, fat-reduced, skimmed, evaporated, and powdered. Check the use-by date marked on the packaging.

Choose cheeses that are even color and consistency that describes its type, soft, creamy, even in color, and not dried out. Avoid those with off-flavored dried out, chalky white interior and hard rind.

Here are some steps to storing tips:

  • Always boil and cool milk before use (pasteurisation).

  • Do not keep milk, cream and soft cheese exposed to room temperature. Some soild cheeses, however, may stand well 4-30° C tempertaure without much risk of microbial attack.

Serving ideas:

As food, milk occupies an important place in the cuisine of several countries, especially in the West.

  • Milk is consumed as a drink or cooked. It is used in the preparation of delicate and hearty soups, sauces such as béchamel, cakes, pastries, and desserts such as flans, custard, sweet dishes, purees, and some cooking dishes. It is made into yogurt and cheese.

  • Yogurt is eaten 'as is' and can also be cooked with dishes. It can be added to soups, salads, meat, poultry, fish, pasta dishes, desserts, and flavored drinks. Yogurt is used as a basic ingredient in several hot and cold soups as well as for making cold sauce for grilled skewers. It is used to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry, and game. It is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.

  • Cream is particularly used in coffee vinaigrettes, soups, sauces, omelets, dessert sweets, and digestive liquors.

  • Butter is employed in sauces, pastries, creams, and soups. It is a basic ingredient in cooking and is used on bread and toast, and in sandwiches.

  • Cheese is used as the main ingredient of a dessert or for stuffing and topping meats and vegetables. It is prepared with savory dishes- salads, sauces, soups, pizzas, pasta dishes, fondues, soufflés, cheese sandwiches omelets- and sweet dishes (cakes, pies, donuts).

  • One cheese may be replaced with another of the same kind. Served at the end of a meal or as an appetizer accompanied with wine.

  • In the case of blue cheeses choose with a smaller or greater number of veins depending on the variety, spread evenly throughout the interior of the cheese. This interior, which is usually white, should not be crumbly, too dry, or too salty. Check the use-by date on the packaging and avoid cheeses that are left at room temperature.

Safety profile

The inability to digest lactose, known as lactose intolerance, is caused by the deficiency in lactase, an enzyme that turns lactose into a substance that can be absorbed in the intestine. Individuals who are lactose intolerant can suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea and cramps. Milk with a lactose content reduced by 90% is available in the market.

Oxytocin and bovine somatotropin (sometribove (rBST) hormones often used for stimulating an increase in the production of milk in cows. Oxytocin residues in milk often be a cause of hormonal side effects in humans.

Milk nutrition is generally poor in iron and vitamin-C. Infants and young children often require iron supplementation to avoid iron deficiency anemia.

Cheeses, including cheddar, are high in tyramine content and if a person on Mono-amine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's) medication like Phenelzine (Nardil) consumes cheeses, he may develop a medical emergency condition known as "hypertensive (high blood pressure) crisis" which have symptoms like severe headache, sweating, nosebleeds, fast heartbeat, chest pain, blurring of vision, shortness of breath, and confusion, and should seek immediate medical attention. Also, they need to continue following a low-tyramine diet for a few weeks after stopping these medications.

When seasoning a dish, take into account the fact that cheese is generally salty, particularly blue cheeses, whose salty taste is enhanced during cooking. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further Resources:

  1. US Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. (pdf-opens in new window).

  2. Bovine somatotropin. (opens in new window).

  3. Vitamin D for Milk and Milk Alternatives.. (opens in new window).

  4. Queensland Governament- low tyramine diet..