Dietary recommendations

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What would happen if I exclude dairy from my diet?

Dairy foods are well-known sources of the essential nutrients most commonly lacking in the SA diet, namely calcium, potassium and vitamin A. Dairy is also a valuable and economic source of protein. Cutting out dairy may compromise the vitamin and mineral content of the diet, specifically with regard to calcium.

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Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are well recognised as sources of essential nutrients, especially calcium, potassium and vitamin A. These are three of the four nutrients most South Africans struggle to obtain from their diet. Dairy is also a valuable and economic source of protein when households cannot afford meat.  

Excluding dairy products from the diet or limiting their intake may compromise the vitamin and mineral content of the diet, specifically with regard to calcium. Without sufficient dairy intake, you will likely not meet your calcium requirements. This could affect your health negatively, as calcium:

  • helps to build and maintain healthy bones
  • contributes to preventing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension
  • helps with regulating body weight and body composition.

Consult a medical expert such as a registered dietitian before you decide to exclude any food group from your diet.

What are the dietary recommendations for butter and cream?

The FBDG on milk does not include butter and cream because of their high fat content and lack of calcium.

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Although butter and cream are dairy products, they are not included as part of the dietary guidelines for milk, maas or yoghurt. Butter and cream have a delicious taste, but should be eaten sparingly because they are relatively high in fat and low in calcium.

What are the dietary recommendations for the intake of milk, yoghurt, maas and cheese?

The South African food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) recommend that everyone older than 4 years should have milk, maas or yoghurt every day. Ideally, a healthy, balanced diet should contain 3 servings of dairy to ensure an intake of 1000 mg calcium/day.

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The South African food-based dietary guidelines recommend that everyone older than 4 years should have milk, maas or yoghurt every day. Everyone in the family should therefore aim to have three servings of dairy a day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It’s easy to remember: 3-A-DAY.

People older than 19 years should generally take in 1000 mg of calcium per day (although the exact requirements may vary based on age and life stage). One serving of dairy provides approximately 300 mg of calcium. Therefore, three servings of dairy a day will provide close to 90% of the required amount of calcium needed daily. You can choose from several dairy products for the recommended three servings: milk, flavoured milk, long-life milk, cheese, yoghurt, drinking yoghurt and amasi are all good options. One glass of milk (250 ml), two small tubs of yoghurt (200 ml), 200 ml amasi, or two slices of cheese (40 g) all equal one serving of dairy.