The month of October can often be a busy time as we try to pack our busy schedules into shorter days and prepare for family fun at Halloween, which is just around the corner. However, one date that shouldn’t be ignored this month is October 20th, which marks World Osteoporosis Day. This is a day that raises awareness about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, or fragile bones, a condition that affects approximately 300,000 people in Ireland, with 1 in 5 men and 1 in 2 women over 50 developing a fracture due to Osteoporosis in their lifetime.1
So how can we ensure that our bones remain healthy throughout life while at the same time helping to protect the growing bones of younger members in the family? Danone Nutritionist Kellie O’Connor says that we must consider whether we are including the right amount of calcium in our diet. According to the Irish Osteoporosis Society the richest source of calcium in food comes from milk, cheese and yoghurt.2 The Department of Health recommends that children and teens (9-18) need up to five servings of dairy per day, to promote the development of healthy bones during this important growth period, while adults need between 3-5 servings depending on their age, to help maintain healthy bones. 3
These helpful guidelines highlight the importance of dairy for all members of the family; however with busy schedules and fussy eaters in most households many of us experience difficulty in meeting them.
Kellie O’Connor explains that there are plenty of fun and delicious ways to incorporate more dairy into our diets; “For most of us, dairy is already an integral part of our diet with milk, cheese and yoghurt at the centre of Irish culinary tradition for many years. Despite this, many of us may be falling short of reaching the recommended daily intake. Calcium is one of the most important nutrients in our diet at all stages in life and is critical in ensuring our bones maintain density and do not become fragile as they age.
“While many of us enjoy a glass of milk with dinner or pot of yoghurt as a snack, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate dairy in our diet throughout the day that can be both simple and flavoursome. Many people aren’t aware, for example, that yoghurt can be incorporated as an ingredient in cooking meals, and can also be used to create low-fat sauces and dips. So how do we develop good habits to make permanent changes? One way is to be aware of the importance of dairy, plan ahead and look at non-traditional as well as traditional ways of incorporating dairy into our daily menu plans.”
Kellie O’Connor gives some advice to families and individuals trying to include more calcium in their diet:
- · Variety-Calcium intake is boosted by including dairy products in a variety of ways. Try to incorporate cheese, milk and yoghurt products in your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Smaller amounts of calcium can also be found in other foods such as sardines, green leafy vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
- · Choose low fat/fat-free dairy products- Low-fat options provide the same amount of calcium as full fat dairy but with fewer calories, all contributing to a balanced diet. Most yoghurt brands offer a range of reduced fat and sugar options, so check the labels to compare.
- · Begin your day right- It’s easy to include calcium-rich foods as part of your healthy breakfast. Why not try granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
- · Incorporate more dairy in cooking-We all know that yoghurt can be a great snack, but you can also use yoghurt as a low-fat ingredient when cooking and preparing meals to boost the calcium content of dishes. Check out some delicious recipes below that make use of natural yoghurt.
- · Sauces and dips: The traditional sauces and dips that we use in our cooking can often be high in fat and low in calcium. One way to counter this is to make dips with natural yoghurt. For example, natural yoghurt with cucumber is a low-calorie alternative to sour cream dip. Greek or natural yoghurt can also be a great substitute for sour cream in fajitas.
- · Liven up plain yoghurt Plain yoghurt generally contains less sugar per serving than flavoured yoghurts. Why not add some raspberries or strawberries to your natural yoghurt for a delicious fruity snack that’s high in calcium?
Here are some recipes that incorporate yoghurt and provide a sourcel of Calcium
Makes 4 servings
- · 125g natural yoghurt such as Danone Activia
- · ½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
- · 1 garlic clove, crushed
- · Freshly ground black pepper
- · Juice of ½ lemon
- · Fresh herbs e.g. mint, parsley (optional
Combine ingredients in a bowl and fold together, refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Serve with vegetable sticks (e.g. carrots, peppers, celery), or toasted pitta bread.
Nutrition information per serving : 19 calories, 1.6g protein 0.6g fat, 2g carbohydrate. Source of Calcium.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Herbed Yogurt Spread
This will be a winner with all the family. Perfect as a snack for hungry teenagers after sport.
- · 1 tbsp natural yoghurt e.g. Danone Activia
- · ½ tsp chopped fresh parsley (or you can use dried)
- · ¼ tsp dried oregano
- · Freshly ground black pepper
- · 1 small cooked chicken breast
- · 4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
- · 2 slices granary bread
- · Handful of salad leaves
- · 4 thin slices cucumber
- · 1 thin slice red onion
- · 1 small tomato, halved
Combine the natural yoghurt, herbs and pepper in a small bowl. Chop the chicken breast into bite-size pieces and mix into the yoghurt & herbs. Spread over 1 slice of bread. Top with the cucumber, onion, tomato and leaves and place the other slice of bread on top.
Serve with a cold glass of low-fat milk.
Nutrition information per serving : 330 calories, 38.2g protein 5.1g fat, 35g carbohydrate, 4.4g fibre. Source of Calcium & Iron. High in Folic Acid.