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Milk, cheese, yoghurt and other cultured/fermented dairy products are composed of complex structures and are important sources of several key nutrients. As part of their nutrient-rich package, dairy foods also contain the naturally occurring sugar, lactose. It is important to consider dairy products in a unique way, giving credit to the important nutritional properties of their intrinsic lactose content.
This Bulletin summarizes the scientific evidence on the nutritional and health properties of lactose as naturally found in milk and other dairy foods. It outlines the key role that milk and dairy products have in a healthy diet and argues that lactose, as an inherent sugar, forms an important part of the dairy matrix.
Keywords: lactose; inherent sugar; added sugar; free sugar; policy makers, public health, healthy diet; health benefits