Thursday 5 December 2019

Helping to get cheese into diet

Ballyboughal public health and clinical nutritionist Niamh Arthurs has lots of great tips on promoting dairy intake over the Christmas period at a time when calcium intake among the younger generation is worryingly low. Calcium is an important source of nutrients for young people so check out these easy-to-use tips from Niamh.

WHERE would our festive feast and seasonal gatherings be without the cheeseboard?

Cheese is an extremely versatile food and with plenty of leftovers during the festive period, it is an ideal way to flavour up any dish or make a nutritious snack to fill the hunger gap between celebrations.

However, don't forget that Cheese is also a powerhouse of nutrition for children and teens.

Calcium is a particularly important nutrient for children and adolescents in order to support the growth and development of healthy bones and teeth.

However, the National Children's Food Survey reported that 28% boys and 37% girls aged 5-12 are not getting enough calcium. Worryingly 23% of boys and over 40% of girls aged 13-17 years also have inadequate calcium intakes.

This is a crucial time for building up calcium stores in bones to help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis in later life so teens should be maximising their intake of dairy products such as cheese.

Cheese provides one of the best sources of calcium in the diet as it is easily absorbed and used by the body. Cheese provides a complete source of protein and phosphorus which are also important for the development of bone.

The protein in cheese is of high biological value which helps to develop muscle and other tissues, curb our appetite and keep us fuller for longer.

In addition, cheese is a useful source of Vitamin A for healthy eyes, Vitamin B12 for healthy blood and the nervous systems and Zinc to help fend off all the winter bugs, colds and flu.

Research also suggests that cheese can protect teeth by preventing the build-up of acid from sugary foods and by stimulating saliva production which acts as a buffer to acid and helps teeth to repair themselves. No wonder we say 'cheese' when getting our photo taken!

The Food pyramid from The Department of Health recommends 5 servings of foods from the dairy group per day for teenagers and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and 3 servings per day for everyone else.

Cheese is a source of saturated fat so try keep to recommended servings and enjoy cheese as part of a healthy, balanced diet for the whole family.

1 serving of cheese is:

-25g/1oz (1 match box size) of hard or semi-soft cheese such as Cheddar, Edam or Gouda

-50g/2oz of soft cheese such as Brie or Camembert

-75g/3oz Cottage Cheese

-2 processed cheese triangles

We eat with our eyes and making food look appealing is one of the best ways to create an interest in food in young people. Eating habits develop when we are young and this can influence our dietary patterns as adults.

Try adding a bit of festive fun to the cheeseboard or any leftovers this year by making some of my cheese creations from these pictures. It will soon become a cheesy race as to who can 'gobble' them down first!

Fingal Independent