Dairy consumption is pretty much dependant on the individual as some people are allergic or intolerant to the proteins in dairy, or are sensitive to its lactose content. The point that I would like to make is that if you are going to consume dairy, choose the full fat versions. Although most people reach for the low-fat/no-fat dairy options with the belief that full fat is harmful and may cause them to gain weight, recent research suggests the opposite may be true. Observational studies show that individulas who eat full-fat dairy have the lowest risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and better fertility rates. A fatty acid found in dairy fat called trans-palmitoleic is associated with healthier levels of cholesterol, insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, and makers of inflammation. This means that individuals who consume high levels of trans-palmitoleic may have a lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those with lower levels.
Other compounds found in full-fat dairy products such as butyrate, phytanic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), have been shown to have beneficial effects. Butyrate is a source of energy for cells lining the colon, decreases inflammation in the gut and has been shown to be beneficial in Crohn's disease.
Finally, when it comes to taste, many agree that full-fat dairy tastes much better than its low-fat version.
Aside from the research available on this topic, my philosophy when it comes to food is to eat is as close as possible to how nature intended it. With milk, for example, this means consuming it as a whole food (cream included). Opt for a full cream, pasturised but non-homogenised, and preferably organic milk.
Below is a recipe for tzatziki using full-fat greek yoghurt.
How to make Tzatziki
Assembled from just a handful of ingredients and requiring no cooking or equipment, tzatziki, also known as cacik in Turkey and North Cyprus, is a staple in Turkish and Greek cuisine. It is used to accompany warm bread or served as a more liquid sauce alongside grilled meats and salads.
An essential step is removing the liquid from the grated cucumber to prevent the yoghurt from becoming diluted and thin, which would affect both the flavour and texture. This is best achieved as described below, where the salt helps to extract the juice. Another key point is to use thick and strained yoghurt for an authentic texture - runny Greek yoghurt is more suitable if you want to achieve a sauce.
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter.
1/2 a large cucumber
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
1x 500g tub of strained full-fat Greek yoghurt
1 small bunch of fresh dill
a few sprigs of fresh mint
1. Slice the cucumber in half, lengthways and cut or scrape out the seeds - this is where most of the water content is. Grate the remaining cucumber.
2. Place the grated cucumber into a sieve, rest it on a bowl and add some sea salt. Give it a stir, and leave to drain for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge. Stir now and again, helping it along by pushing the liquid out with a spoon.
3. In the meantime, peel and finely grate or crush the garlic, then combine with the oil in a large bowl.
4. When most of the liquid has drained from the grated cucumber, spread it out over a tea towel and pat dry. Combine with the garlic mixture, then stir through the yoghurt until evenly distributed.
5. Finely chop the dill and mint leaves, then fold through the yoghurt mixture along with with a squeeze of lemon juice . Season with salt to taste.
6. Serve with warm pita or Turkish bread, vegetable sticks or alongside salad and grilled meats.
If you want to get creative, feel free to pep up your tzatziki with paprika or sumac, or add a punch with slices of fresh chilli. Dress with some chopped herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
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Chavarro, J.E., Rich-Edwards, J.W., Rosner, B. and Willett, W.C., 2007. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction, 22(5), pp.1340-1347.
Gebauer, S.K., Chardigny, J.M., Jakobsen, M.U., Lamarche, B., Lock, A.L., Proctor, S.D. and Baer, D.J., 2011. Effects of ruminant trans fatty acids on cardiovascular disease and cancer: a comprehensive review of epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 2(4), pp.332-354.
Kratz, M., Baars, T. and Guyenet, S., 2013. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease.European journal of nutrition, 52(1), pp.1-24.
Mozaffarian, D., Cao, H., King, I.B., Lemaitre, R.N., Song, X., Siscovick, D.S. and Hotamisligil, G.S., 2010. Trans-palmitoleic acid, metabolic risk factors, and new-onset diabetes in US adults: a cohort study. Annals of internal medicine, 153(12), pp.790-799.
Sabatino, A., Morera, R., Ciccocioppo, R., Cazzola, P., Gotti, S., Tinozzi, F.P., Tinozzi, S. and Corazza, G.R., 2005. Oral butyrate for mildly to moderately active Crohn's disease. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 22(9), pp.789-794.