Daily Dairy Needs for Aged Care

November, 2023
dairy foods for aged care

Most of us know about the 5 core food groups and how we should be consuming a certain number of serves from each food group for good health.

The results of our experiences conducting portion audits and aged care menu reviews, show that the food group that most often comes up as lacking, is dairy. 

Why Is Dairy Important?

Dairy foods are naturally rich in calcium and protein. These two essential nutrients build and maintain healthy bones and muscles, which is important in healthy aging.

Older Australians need 4 serves of dairy per day to offset the muscle wasting and brittle bones associated with aging. Research tells us the benefits of dairy foods is related to its unique mix of nutrients.

This combination of nutrients cannot be replicated in any other food or supplement. It is therefore, better to eat dairy foods than to rely on nutrient supplements. 

What Is A Serve Of Dairy?

  • 250mL milk or non-dairy milk with equivalent protein and calcium (e.g. soy)
  • 125mL evaporated milk
  • 100g condensed milk**
  • 40g cheese (2 slices)
  • 120g ricotta
  • 200g yoghurt
  • 250mL custard
  • 35g full cream milk powder (4 Tbsp)
  • 25g skim milk powder (3 Tbsp)
  • 2 cups ice cream (5 x 100mL scoops) **

** These items are not specifically part of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) core food group, but are included here as AGHE Sample Serves for variety for the frail elderly.

Here are our top tips to boost the daily dairy serve intake of your residents:

  • Serve porridge cooked with milk instead of on water.
  • Offer yoghurt at breakfast daily. Also offer yoghurt as an option for morning/afternoon tea and supper. Yoghurt is also good to have on hand in the serveries as a dessert alternative at Lunch and Dinner.
  • Increase servings of yoghurt to 200g.
  • Offer lactose-free dairy alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant such as lactose-free cow’s dairy (e.g. Zymil, Liddells), or soy dairy (need to ensure product is calcium-enriched, e.g. So Good).
  • Offer milk to drink at all meal and snack times.
  • Use fortified milk throughout the day in hot drinks, desserts, soups.
  • Offer 2 dairy-based desserts daily. Examples of dairy based desserts include rice pudding, crème caramel, blancmange, cheesecakes.
  • Add ½ cup of either custard, ice-cream, or yoghurt to low dairy-based desserts such as cakes and pastries.
  • Serve a plate of cheese slices with some crackers/fruit at Afternoon Tea and Supper instead of biscuits/cakes/slices.
  • Include cheese with salads/ add grated cheese to scrambled eggs/ top dishes with grated cheese eg cottage pie
  • Offer warm milky drinks at Supper, such as a Milo made with milk rather than on water.

There you have it – some food for thought on this very important food group. Please get in touch with Food Solutions if you would like a portion audit or a full menu review conducted at your facility. 

Dietitians Australia
Aged & Community Care Providers Association

Don’t let your residents or budget experience the side effects of malnutrition or dysphagia.
Call us on 1300 850 246 or email and request a call back.

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