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20. What is The Mediterranean Diet?
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24. What are legumes, and why are they good for you?
25. Why is eating fish good for you?
26. Which fats and oils are good for you?
27. Are dairy products good for you?
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35. Which oils and fats are good for you - and when should I use them?
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37. What is the best chicken or turkey for you?
38. Are dairy products good for you?
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40. Is red meat like beef or pork bad or good for you?
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44. How can healthy food taste good? Part 1
45. How can healthy food taste good? Part 2
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The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan
Are dairy products good for you?



The research on Mediterranean style diet does include good information on dairy products. The data says that including dairy in your diet is healthy, but most of the dairy in the Mediterranean Diet is lower in fat or processed, such as cheese or yogurt.

The dairy council would have you believe that drinking milk can lead to weight loss. This really isn't the case. In one study, men with the largest increase in total dairy intake gained slightly more weight over the course of the 12-year study than those who decreased their dairy intake the most. The good news is that the weight change was in those drinking high-fat dairy products and low-fat dairy was not associated with weight change.

So what are the best choices for having in your cupboard?

Milk

The lower in fat the better. The best choice is skim milk for such things as drinking or on your cereal. I generally use 2% milk for cooking because it adds a creaminess that skim or 1% milk can't.

Buttermilk these days is almost always made with skim milk, but check the label. I use it in recipes such as Mashed Potatoes and muffins. When shopping I always look for the smallest carton on the shelf because I will often only use a cup or so.

Cheeses

As I mentioned above, most of the research on Mediterranean diet shows that the dairy is generally processed dairy such as cheeses. Often these are lower fat because many of the cheeses are made with goat's or sheep's milk. Regular cheddar cheese, however, contains around 9 grams of fat per ounce. There are some great reduced fat cheeses on the market in the range of 4 to 6 grams per ounce. You can find reduced fat cheddar and Swiss as well as Monterey jack. Mozzarella (both low moisture and fresh) is a great choice and keeping some mozzarella on hand means you're always ready to make pizza.

In many recipes these lower fat cheeses work better because when they melt there is less chance that they will separate. The very low-fat or non fat cheeses are not very good. Besides being bland, because they don't have fat they don't melt well.

I always have the best quality Parmigiano-Reggiano and a Romano on hand. They are higher in fat, but because they are so full of flavor you don't need to use very much.

Stores these days will cut you little bits of cheese if you ask, and keep in mind that a little goes a long way. I try to have a good quality blue cheese and a little feta in the fridge as well.

Yogurt

Yogurt is made by fermenting a milk with bacteria (usually lactobacillus and / or streptococcus species). Like most dairy products, yogurt contains various amounts of fat. There is non-fat (0% fat), low-fat (usually 2% fat) and plain or whole milk yogurt (4% fat).

Keep in mind one important thing. A lot of yogurts that have fruit in them or are custard style have a lot of sugar (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup).

Sour Cream

Regular sour cream has a whopping 5 grams of fat in two tablespoons. Of this 3.5 grams are saturated. There's not much difference in flavor or texture between this and the reduced or lowered fat sour cream, which has only 3 grams of fat in 2 tablespoons. The fat free or non-fat sour cream is just that. The regular and reduced fat can be used in cooking, but even at moderate temperatures the fat free sour cream separates easily. When adding it to hot sauces or soups, cool them first and then add the sour cream, reheating gently.