Q1. Is milk the best source of calcium?
A1. Milk products are the best source of calcium in the average Canadian diet. Not only do milk products contain substantial quantities of calcium, but also the calcium they contain is readily absorbed by the body.
Q2. Why is calcium so important?
A2. Calcium is an essential nutrient, which means it is a nutrient our bodies can't make so we need to get enough of it from the food we eat. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for muscles like the heart to contract, blood to clot, and nerve impulses to transmit in the body. If your calcium needs are not met through the foods you eat, it will be withdrawn from your bones, which act as a storehouse for calcium. Milk products are excellent sources of calcium. Fluid milk contains vitamin D, which helps our body absorb calcium, and is equally important for bone health.
Q3. What other foods will give me the calcium I need?
A3. Without milk products in your diet, it is extremely difficult but not impossible to meet your calcium needs. This is because very few foods other than milk products, contain as much calcium that is readily absorbed by the body. To obtain the amount of calcium as is found in one glass (250 ml) of milk, you would have to eat more than 7 1/2 cups of spinach, 4 cups of broccoli, 11 1/2 cups of red kidney beans, 32 glasses of soy beverage, or 12 slices of whole wheat bread.
Q4. Are milk products fattening?
A4. No, milk products come in a range of fat contents to suit any life style. And, Health Canada recognizes 2% milk as a lower fat choice. Remember, low fat recommendations do not mean "no fat". Fat is an essential nutrient. A food should not be eliminated based on fat content only. Be mindful of all the nutrients a food contains.
Q5. What's pasteurization? Does it affect the nutrient composition of milk?
A5. Pasteurization involves heating milk at high enough temperatures to kill harmful bacteria that cause diseases. In most modern methods, milk is heated 72.8ºC (161.6ºF) for 16 seconds or 89ºC (192ºF) for one second then rapidly cooled to 4ºC (39ºF). It does not involve the use of any additives whatsoever. Pasteurization not only makes the milk safe to drink; it increases the length of time it can be kept before it spoils. The nutrient loss due to pasteurization is so small, it is considered insignificant.
Q6. Can you freeze milk?
A6. Yes, although it is not recommended, milk may be frozen for three to six weeks. Although freezing does not greatly affect the nutritive value, it may cause separation. Give it a gentle shake before using. It's also best to thaw it in the refrigerator. As well remember not to freeze milk after thawing.
Q7. Are allergies to milk widespread in the population?
A7. Milk allergies are quite rare and most commonly found in the infant population. Even so, it affects less than 1% of infants. Of those afflicted only 0.1 to 1.0% have a severe or life long milk allergy. If you have difficulty digesting milk it is actually an intolerance to lactose, the natural sugar in milk and does not mean you have to stop consuming milk products.
Q8. Can people who are lactose intolerant drink milk or eat other
A8. Most people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate the amount of lactose found in a single glass (250 ml) of milk, especially if taken with other foods. But since everyone is different, each individual needs to determine their level of tolerance. Other dairy products also can be eaten: yogurt which contains bacteria that break down lactose, and firm cheese such as cheddar and mozzarella, which contain very small amounts of lactose.
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