Milk and dairy products (e.g. yogurt, cheese and kefir) are a rich source of high biological value proteins, calcium and vitamins (A and D). While the consumption of milk and dairy products can be beneficial, it comes with caveats. For multiple reasons, mainly that a frequent consumption of milk and dairy products can have an inflammatory effect on the intestinal mucosa, it is recommended to limit the consumption to 4 times per week (especially cow's milk). There are many great alternatives for the lactose-intolerant community, as well as for vegans or those who have a mostly plant-based diet, for example plant-based “milk”. These are often enriched in protein, Calcium and B12, so as to simulate, as much as possible, milk composition and nutritional value. It's important to note that many of the plant-based alternatives can contain added sugars – so make sure to check the labels to choose the best option. Sugars that occur naturally are not of concern.
Recommended daily portion: 2 portions from a variety of dairy products or good plant-based alternatives per day, with a maximum of 4 portions of cow's milk products per week.
Although red meat is a good source of high biological value protein and iron, its increased consumption is linked with a high risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and bowel cancer. It can be very beneficial to focus one’s regular consumption on healthier options such as chicken, turkey or duck. Additionally, for those who are vegetarians or prefer to eat mostly plant-based products and reduce animal product consumption, plant-based meat alternatives are a good option. Nowadays, there is a huge variety available to choose from and most of these products have satisfactory organoleptic characteristics and taste a lot like real meat. However, as with dairy replacements, in order to ensure they are of similar nutritional value, consumers should opt for products that contain enough protein (>20 g/100 g of product), which mainly comes from legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, peas, soya) and/or seeds. A variety of plant-based protein sources throughout the day can provide all the essential amino acids that humans require on a daily basis.
Recommended daily portion: 1 portion of red meat (120-150 g) and 2 portions of “white” meat (120-150 g).
In nutrition, above all else, it’s important to have a balanced diet and try to include a variety of food groups in moderation on a daily basis. There are no “forbidden” foods – everything can be a part of one’s diet. However, there are of course food products that are more nutritious, such as fruits, vegetables and legumes, which should be included in one’s diet more often. On the other side there are foods rich in saturated fat and/or added sugars and processed meat (e.g. slices of ham), that should only be consumed occasionally, and in smaller quantities. It’s crucial to mention that each individual has specific and unique dietary requirements, so it’s often better to seek advice or even get a personalised dietary plan from a registered dietician or nutritionist.
This is the second of 5 weekly articles – each containing 2 tips around healthier eating habits – in TAKINOA's Healthier Eating Habits series. Stay tuned to discover more of the basic principles of a balanced diet and to learn how you can improve your eating habits.