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MAKING CARBS COUNT: Milking it

While milk has a carb-content, many products made from milk do not — cheese, cream and yoghurt are carb-free. An excellent source of protein, dairy produce is an important part of any one’s diet.

So it’s starts with the cows, but when we get our hands on it, milk can become so much more, like cheese, butter, cream and yoghurt. In this case more in fact less when it comes to carbs. Until you add anything to them, these things have zero carbs, though they’re packed with protein and contain calcium, needed all through you lifetime for good bones and teeth.

You might have to watch out for the fat content, but keeping dairy in your diet is good for you if you don’t overdo it, as the fats are ‘good’ fats, as long as they are in proportion to the rest of your diet.

 

What’s in milk?

The energy in milk comes from its protein, carbohydrate and fat content, with the exception of skim milk that has virtually no fat. Milk is approximately 87% water, so it is a good source of water in the diet. Milk is approximately 4.9% carbohydrate in the form of lactose. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for activity. Glucose is the only form of energy that can be used by the brain. Lactose is a disaccharide made up of glucose and galactose bonded together. Before it can be used by the body, the bond must be broken by the enzyme lactase in the small intestine. People that have decreased activity of lactase in the small intestine may have problems digesting lactose and this is referred to as lactose intolerance.

Milk is approximately 3.4% fat. There are 2 fatty acids that are considered “essential” that cannot be made by the body and must come from the diet, and these are linoleic (18:2) and linolenic (18:3) acids. The fatty acids in milk fat are approximately 65% saturated, 29% monounsaturated, and 6% polyunsaturated.

Cholesterol is an important component of cell membranes and as a starting material for the production of bile salts and steroid hormones. The body manufactures cholesterol to ensure that an adequate level of cholesterol is available for body functions. Cholesterol is associated with fat so the content will vary depending on the fat content of the dairy product. An 8 oz serving of 2% milk contains 8% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for cholesterol.

Milk is approximately 3.3% protein and contains all of the essential amino acids. Milk protein consists of approximately 82% casein and 18% whey (serum) proteins. Both casein and whey proteins are present in milk, yogurt, and ice cream. In most cheeses the casein is coagulated to form the curd, and the whey is drained leaving only a small amount of whey proteins in the cheese. Whey proteins have become popular ingredients in foods as an additional source of protein or for functional benefits. Whey proteins are used as a protein source in high protein beverages and energy bars targeted to athletes.

A cocktail of vitamins and minerals, this is what you’d get in an 8 oz serving of 2% milk: 47% of the RDI for vitamin B12, involved in protein metabolism and blood functions; 35% of the RDI for Riboflavin (vitamin B2), necessary for electron transport reactions; 30% of the RDI for calcium, essential in bone formation, nerve transmission and blood clotting;  15% of the RDI for vitamin A, involved in vision, reproduction, and immune response; 11% of the RDI for selenium, important in oxidative stress response, electron transport, and regulation of thyroid hormone; 8% of the RDI for thiamine, an enzyme cofactor involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

 

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