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Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.
Sometimes people call diabetes “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes.” These terms suggest that someone doesn’t really have diabetes or has a less serious case, but every case of diabetes is serious.
What is Diabetes?

What are the different types of diabetes?

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

Type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.

Other types of diabetes

Less common types include monogenic diabetes, which is an inherited form of diabetes, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes .

How common is diabetes?

As of 2015, 30.3 million people in the United States, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes. More than 1 in 4 of them didn’t know they had the disease. Diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over the age of 65. About 90-95 percent of cases in adults are type 2 diabetes.1

Who is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant. Learn more about risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

What health problems can people with diabetes develop?

Over time, high blood glucose leads to problems such as
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney disease
  • eye problems
  • dental disease
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems
You can take steps to lower your chances of developing these diabetes-related health problems.



Top 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking

Italian, celebrity chef, Gino D'Acampo is an advocate of good, healthy Italian cooking. Here Gino shares his top tips for keeping your home-cooked Italian dishes authentic and healthy...

Top 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking

1. Keep it seasonal

Wherever possible, ingredients should be bought in season as the typical Italian diet uses fresh produce. This helps to give dishes a fantastic flavour and means you don't have to add loads of fat, salt or sugar to improve taste. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are also usually more nutrient dense and therefore better for you. Italians love to wander around local markets to select their ingredients - it's part of enjoying food.


2. Don't overdo the pastaTop 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking

When you are preparing to cook pasta you shouldn't allocate more than 120g of dried pasta per person. Often people make the mistake of throwing the whole bag of pasta in the pot and end up cooking and eating far too much. Also take care not to overcook your pasta as al dente (firm to the bite) pasta has a lower glycemic index than soft, overcooked pasta - so it is good for filling you up and keeping you satisfied for longer.


3. Change your oils

Swap your regular cooking oil for a good quality olive oil. Olive oil is much better for you than many regular cooking oils and definitely better than cooking with butter or margarine if you are trying to be healthy. Virgin olive oil is high in good fats like monounsaturated and omega 3 as well as containing anti-oxidants.


Top 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking4. Fish

Try to eat at least two portions of oily fish a week. Fish is a very important part of the Italian diet and we are also use a lot of shellfish, which are high in nutrients - you can't beat a tasty seafood platter.


5. Make mealtimes an occasion

Every mealtime in Italy is a big occasion, and as a result we are very aware of and appreciate the food we consume each time we sit together. Avoid TV dinners and other distractions and concentrate on what and how much you're eating to help control portion sizes.


6. Cook from scratchTop 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking

The satisfaction you'll get from your food will be much greater if you manage to cook a couple of meals from scratch each week. You'll also know exactly what's going into your pot and onto your plate. Make your own sauces and meatballs from scratch, and at the weekend, when you have more time, have a go at making your own pastry and pasta.


7. Watch your sauces

Italians lightly coat their pasta instead of drowning it with sauce. Excessive smothering just piles on the calories and fat content without adding any extra flavour. If you're watching your weight, avoid tube shaped pastas such as rigatoni and penne as they soak up a lot more sauce.


Top 10 tips for healthy Italian cooking8. Dessert

Swap your calorific dessert for a nice healthy fruit salad. If you buy your fruit when it is in season you'll find the sweetness will conquer any sugar cravings.


9. Salad dressing

When dressing your salads use a good quality and flavoursome balsamic vinegar so that you can reduce the amount of oil you mix with it. Balsamic vinegar is low in calories and to make a healthy dressing just mix it with a little virgin olive oil as a replacement for creamy salad dressings or mayonnaise.

10. Gremolata

To add plenty of flavour to grilled steak or grilled fish use a gremolata instead of a creamy or oily sauce. A gremolata is an Italian garnish of raw, finely chopped garlic, fresh parsley and lemon zest and when it is sprinkled on top of your fish or meat at the end of cooking it adds huge amounts of flavour without the calories or fat.

Try out Gino's top tips in our favourite Italian recipes


Eat to ease the menopause

What is the menopause and how can you eat to ease some of the unwelcome symptoms associated with it? Nutritionist Jo Lewin has some practical advice...
Eat to ease the menopause
About the menopause
Most women dread the word menopause. In reality it affects women in completely different ways, but the most common symptoms include hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, impairment of memory and fatigue. Long term consequences can include a decline in libido, osteoporosis, heart disease, even dementia – all linked to reduced oestrogen levels.
Typically, a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs in her early 50s, and the menstrual cycle stops. Some women can sail through with only the odd hot flush, but others can struggle with symptoms such as weight gain and fluctuating emotions. The physiological reason why the body starts changing is largely down to the drop in oestrogen production and the effect this has on other hormones.
As the ovaries stop manufacturing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, symptoms may begin. For example, oestrogen helps lift our mood so, when levels drop, we may feel depressed.  Some women opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT); others try natural remedies. Whether or not you decide to take HRT, following the guidelines below won't hurt and will assist in the pursuit of an all-round healthy lifestyle.
It has been noted that eating, and avoiding, certain types of foods can make the menopause a lot more bearable. Here are common problems those going through the menopause may face and some foods to watch out for...

Dietary solutions...

Eat to ease the menopauseHot flushes

Try to cut down on foods that are likely to trigger or worsen hot flushes and night sweats. For instance, avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night - they're notorious for setting off hot flushes.


Avoid snacking on sugary foods – all too often a sharp rise in your blood glucose level may be followed by a sharp dip which leaves you feeling tired and drained. Choose fresh fruit with a few nuts instead.

Eat to ease the menopauseWeight gain

Many people associate the menopause with weight gain but, as we get older, we need fewer calories. Eating a bit less sounds a simplistic solution but it will help. Watch the amount of fat in your diet and cut back on sugar. Eat complex carbohydrates, such as brown grains, wholemeal pasta, bread and rice, as they will help balance blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Eat to ease the menopauseDry skin

Legumes, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, almonds contain vitamin E, zinc and calcium. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin and normalise hormone levels.

Depression and irritability

Ensure you eat enough protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan. You can find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats and legumes. Tryptophan helps manufacture the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps moods and may help control sleep and appetite which can make you feel better in yourself. Other useful strategies to help you feel less irritable are to eat breakfast and not miss meals to balance your blood sugar.

Eat to ease the menopauseBone health

Women going through the menopause should increase their intake of food sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to maintain integrity of the skeleton. In addition, high amounts of phosphorous – found in red meat, processed foods and fizzy drinks – should also be avoided. Too much phosphorous in the diet accelerates the loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium from bone. Reducing sodium, caffeine and protein from animal products can also help the body maintain calcium stores.
Eat foods high in magnesium and boron. These are minerals which are important for the replacement of bone and thus help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Apples, pears, grapes, dates, raisins, legumes and nuts are good sources of boron.
Talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from a calcium supplement. Other vitamins and minerals that are vital for bone health are magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin D and zinc. Weight-bearing exercise is important too, but if you have been diagnosed with any form of bone loss, check with your doctor that you can exercise safely and effectively.
Find out more about the best sources of calcium and learn about what affects osteoporosis and bone density.

Eat to ease the menopauseEat more phyto-oestrogens

Phyto or plant oestrogens found in certain foods are oestrogenic compounds that bind with oestrogen receptor sites in the body cells, increasing the total oestrogenic effect. By acting in a similar way to oestrogen, they may help in keeping hormones a little more in balance.  A high intake of phytoestrogens is thought to explain why hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms rarely occur in populations consuming a predominantly plant-based diet. Increase your intake of phyto-oestrogens by eating more: soya milk and soya flour, linseeds, tofu, tempeh and miso, pumpkins seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, celery, rhubarb and green beans.

This page was last reviewed on 31 August 2017.
A Registered Nutritionist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).
All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

How to choose healthier takeaway options

Looking to make a healthy takeaway choice? Find out the best foods to order, from Indian, Chinese, Italian or Mexican to the British classic, fish and chips.

How to choose healthier takeaway options

Healthy eating and Friday night feasting rarely go hand in hand. Some of our favourite takeaway temptations pose particular problems, from cuisines such as Chinese, Italian, Indian and Mexican to dishes such as fish and chips.

Of course, it's fine to enjoy a treat every now and then, but when it comes to ordering in, there are simple tricks to get more bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking. Can't resist those old favourites? Making your own will mean you know exactly what goes into your dish of choice and will help you keep control of your recommended daily intakes. We have plenty of healthy recipe inspiration, including our chicken jalfrezi, pictured above.

Some takeaways and restaurants now provide nutritional information on their menus or websites which is worth looking out for, as it can help you to make a healthier choice.

Read on for our top tips to make a healthier takeaway order...


How to choose healthier takeaway options

Our western taste for creamy Indian curries and hearty naans can play havoc with our waistlines – and often it's not too heart-friendly either. Tandoori dishes are one of the easiest ways to enjoy a healthier takeaway as the meat is normally grilled rather than fried, cutting down calories and saturated fat.

Stick to tomato-based sauces and choose something with a bit of spice, guaranteed to quickly satisfy your taste buds. Swap your naan for a couple of poppadums topped with raita or tomato sambal, and choose plain over pilau rice, which is cooked with extra oil.

Healthier options:
Tomato-based or dry curries like tandoori, madras, jalfrezi, rogan and bhuna dishes; plain rice, roti, poppadums. 

Cut down on:
Creamy curries like masala, pasanda or korma; naan bread, pilau rice, bhajis.

Make it yourself:
Try using a small amount of rapeseed oil when cooking Indian food at home, and use wholemeal flour and brown rice rather than white to make your dishes even more wholesome. For more inspiration, check out our healthy curry collection and healthy Indian recipes.


How to choose healthier takeaway options

In the UK, our favourite Chinese takeaway dishes tend to be battered, fried and crispy rather than more traditional low-fat offerings. Over-eating is a big stumbling block, so opt for a soup starter while looking to steamed and stir-fried options to satisfy you.

Healthier options:
Steamed/boiled rice, plain noodles, crab & sweetcorn soup, steamed dumplings, steamed fish, chicken chop suey, Szechuan prawns, vegetable stir-fry.

Cut down on:
Fried rice, crispy duck, sticky sauces like sweet & sour, battered chicken/prawn/pork balls, prawn crackers, wontons, spring rolls, sesame toast, spare ribs.

Make it yourself:
Cooking your own Chinese favourites means you can cut down the amount of salt you'll be taking in. Also, why not practise using chopsticks in the comfort of your own home? You'll eat more slowly, giving your tummy a chance to tell your brain when it's full. Check out our healthy Chinese recipe collection for more ideas.


How to choose healthier takeaway options

Bowls piled high with creamy pasta and deep-pan, cheese-laden pizzas may be delicious, but they're not the most nutritious Italian dishes. The good news is there are still lots of lovely lower-fat alternatives that are sure to satisfy. Opt for thin-based pizzas and pastas with a tomato or vegetable sauce, and ditch the garlic bread in favour of better-for-you ciabatta.

Healthier options:
Thin crust pizzas, lean meats, vegetable and seafood toppings, bruschetta, ciabatta, Italian soups such as pasta fagioli or minestrone.

Cut down on:
Deep-pan or thick/stuffed-crust pizza bases, pepperoni or extra cheese toppings, creamy pasta sauces, garlic bread, lasagne, fried calamari, ravioli.

Make it yourself:
If you're rustling up your own Italian feast, favourites like carbonara and lasagne needn't be off the menu. Use less oil when cooking and stick to lean meats and lower-fat soft cheeses to make your sauces creamy. Try our healthy Italian recipe collection and discover the best healthy pizzas you can make at home.

Fish and chips

How to choose healthier takeaway options

It may be a quintessentially British takeaway, but all too often an order from your local chippy can be high in fat and salt. A portion of mushy peas or baked beans will count towards your 5-a-day, but don't forget these can be high in salt too. Portion sizes are often on the generous side, so ask for fewer chips or share one portion between two. You can also ask to add any condiments yourself, so that you’re more in control of your salt intake. And finally, while white fish is a good source of protein, after it’s been battered and cooked in the deep-fat fryer, it’s no longer lean. Breadcrumbed fish may be a lower-fat option, or simply leave some of the batter behind.

Healthier options:
Breadcrumbed or plain grilled fish, mushy peas, baked beans, thick-cut chips (they absorb less oil than thin-cut chips).

Cut down on:
Thin-cut or triple-cooked chips, pies such as steak and kidney, jumbo battered sausages, onion rings.

Make it yourself:
Bake breadcrumbed fillets of fish and homemade chips in the oven for a crispy finish, with no deep-fat fryer required. Our classic recipes for crispy fish & chips with mushy peas or fish fingers & mushy peas are a great place to start. If you fancy something different, try our lemon pollock with sweet potato chips & broccoli mash, or salmon & ginger fish cakes.


How to choose healthier takeaway options

Mexican food is certainly full of flavour, but some items on the menu can be high in calories, saturated fats and salt. In general, steer clear of deep-fried options in favour of lean meats, fish or vegetables. Choose soft corn tortillas over crunchy, fried shells, and opt for brown rice instead of white if the restaurant offers it. Steer clear of adding lots of ‘extras’ to your dish, such as cheese, sour cream or mayonnaise. If you want to add sauce, tomato salsa is a good choice. Portion sizes can be large, so try splitting a starter or side dish between two, or save leftovers for another meal.

Healthier options:
Fajitas, burritos or burrito ‘bowls’ filled with lean meats, poultry, fish or beans plus peppers and onions, tomato salsa, guacamole (in moderation), grilled chicken or fish, salads (served without deep-fried taco bowls).

Cut down on:
Deep-fried dishes such as chimichangas, chalupas and taquitos, refried beans, cheese dips, salty tortilla chips, loaded nachos, sour cream, salads served in deep-fried taco bowls.

Make it yourself:
It’s easy to whip up a Mexican feast that’s as nutritious as it is delicious. Fajitas are a great way to pack in plenty of protein and vegetables, and you can use wholemeal tortillas to increase fibre intake. Homemade chilli con carne is another good option – try our classic chunky chilli or vegan bean chilli for a filling dinner. Browse our healthy Mexican collection for more inspiration.




Enjoyed this? Now try...

Our favourite healthy takeaway recipes
The best healthy burger recipes
Our top healthy kebab recipes
Our best ever healthy Thai recipes
All our healthy recipe collections

This page was last reviewed on 1st August 2018 by Kerry Torrens.

A registered nutritionist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), and the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.


Best juicers 2018

Convenience, size and ease of cleaning are key considerations when choosing a juicer. We've tested popular versions to suit all budgets and requirements.

Find out more about our BBC Good Food reviews.

Read our pick of the best machines for blitzing fruit and veg to create delicious healthy juices at home. Whether you’re a novice to the juicing trend or call yourself a pro juicer, we’ve rounded up the best options on the market. More of a smoothie fan? Read our review of the best bullet blenders.

Smeg slow juicer

Best juicers 2018

Best all-rounder

This classic retro design Smeg slow juicer was crowned our Star Buy due to its incredibly smooth results as well as having the option of two various strainers for fine or thicker juice. In contrast to some of the heavy and unattractive machinery on the market, this slick design and relatively lightweight model means we’d be happy to keep it pride of place on our kitchen counter. The appliance also benefits from an easy-to-manage assembly with brilliant picture instructions and lots of handy recipes. Just a note: larger pieces of fruit and veg may need to be cut slightly to fit into the smaller-than-normal entrance funnel.



Panasonic slow juicer MJ-L500

Best juicers 2018Best for a small kitchen
If you don’t have the luxury of a large kitchen, you might be concerned about investing in another bulky piece of equipment. Of all the ones we tested, this was by far the slimmest and most compact. However, it’s worth noting that you may need to chop your fruit down into smaller pieces as the machine has a fairly small entrance funnel due to its overall compact nature. When it came to doing the washing-up, we were pleasantly surprised at the practical cleaning brushes that came with this machine – really handy for removing any chunks caught in the blades.


Electriq HSL600 slow masticating cold press juicer

Best juicers 2018 

Best budget buy
We were pleasantly surprised at the innovative design of the Electriq machine, the first to have a see-through component meaning fruit and veg can be seen travelling from input to output. At under £60, we would say with confidence that this tried and tested model is excellent value for money. Although we found the machine harder to clean than some other models, this one would be perfect for anyone new to juicing who's looking to save a penny or two.


Omega MMV702 Mega Mouth

Best juicers 2018

Best for a pro juicer
This fairly heavy piece of equipment wouldn’t look out of place in an industrial kitchen. With a pretty large body and a relatively tricky build, this is definitely aimed more towards those who take their juicing seriously. Some machines particularly struggled to break down leafy greens such as kale, but this one tackled the ‘kale test’ with ease, making the smoothest juice of all the appliances we tried. It's at the higher end of the pricing scale, so we wouldn’t recommend buying this machine if you’re a total novice, but for those who know their way around a juicer and are looking for the ultimate smooth results, this one should be on your wish list.  

Buy from UK Juicers (£399)

For all of the products mentioned in this review, various retailers have been suggested by our affiliate partner Monetizer 101 and are not suggested or chosen by BBC Good Food. For more information on how these retailers are selected and the nature of our partnership, please read the Monetizer101 FAQ page. 

Buyer's advice

Why buy?

Whether you’re trying to increase your fruit and veg intake or just want to know what all the fuss is about, juicing is the trend for you. How does juicing differ from smoothie-making, you may ask? Simply put, most juice makers extract juice from fruit and veg and then go on to separate the juice from the pulp. Smoothie makers, on the other hand, cannot extract any juice and merely blend together the chosen ingredients, meaning the results are often thicker. 

What to buy?

Although there are plenty of options on the market, there are fundamentally two options to choose from: fast or slow juicers. 

Best juicers 2018Centrifugal (fast) juicers: These seem to be the most popular choice because they are speedy, easy to use and tend to be fairly budget-friendly. Most of the time, they work by feeding whole chunks of fruit or veg down a tube where it is then chopped and separated at the bottom. 

Masticating (slow) juicers: For anyone who considers juicing a vital part of their daily diet, masticating juicing would often be deemed the preferred choice. Although not as speedy as a fast juicer, a masticating machine will definitely do a much better job at breaking down the fruit or veg – particularly those hard-to-blend leafy greens. It's often said that you will yield more juice when using a slow juicer so they're often considered more cost-effective in the long run than a fast juicer. 

What we looked for

Ease of use: Although assembling the machines can be quite time-consuming, we noted how easy the instruction manuals were to use and the simplicity of each machine’s functionality once put together. 
Smoothness: As we were looking to juice a variety of fruit and veg, it was important the juicers could handle everything we threw their way. We also made sure they weren’t too noisy for an everyday kitchen. 
Ease of cleaning: We looked for machines with removable components that could be washed in a dishwasher or with an old-fashioned manual scrub.
Ease of storage: Although all juicers tend to be vast in size due to the nature of the work they do, we looked for compact appliances that could be stored in a kitchen cupboard. 
Features: Any added bonuses, like different options for frozen juices or veg prep, were taken into account.

How we tested

We tested all of the juicers using the same quantities of carrots, apples, fresh root ginger and kale. We looked for a smooth green juice which told us the machine could handle leafy greens. The juices that came out orange told us that the machine did not process the kale properly. The amount of juice produced was also very important, and we measured the yield of each batch. 

Juice recipes and advice

Cucumber, apple & spinach juice
Carrot, clementine & pineapple juice
Fennel, blueberry & apple juice
The health benefits of juice

The best gadgets – tested

The best bullet blenders
The best food processors
The best blenders
The best gadgets for health lovers 

This review was last updated in August 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at 

Have you tried juicing yet? Will you be investing in a juicer? We'd like to hear your thoughts... 


Which milk is right for you?

More and more people are exploring alternative substitutes to cow's milk. Nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens takes a look at the most popular options – and our cookery team puts them to the test in the Good Food kitchen

Which milk is right for you?

Scour the dairy shelves in your supermarket and, as well as cow’s milk, you can find goat’s milk, several soya options and milk-style drinks made from nuts. There’s a huge demand for these products, as four out of 10 British households now use an alternative to traditional milk in hot drinks, cereal or cooking.

One reason is that some of us find cow’s milk difficult to digest, and blame symptoms like bloating, wind and diarrhoea on dairy. This may be because low levels of the enzyme lactase make it hard to digest the lactose (sugar) in dairy products. Other people may be intolerant to cow’s milk protein or have a more serious allergy to dairy.

Milk allergy is also one of the most common childhood food allergies, affecting about 2-3 per cent of infants in the UK, with symptoms ranging from skin conditions to digestive problems.

Which milk is right for you?Skimmed, semi or full-fat? 

Latest research reveals that skimmed milk may not necessarily be the healthiest option. Yes, it’s lower in fat and calories than whole milk, and higher in calcium, but some experts suggest that the saturated fat in dairy may not be a problem in terms of heart health. In fact, by drinking skimmed we may be missing out on fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A and E.

Semi-skimmed is low enough in fat to be a ‘low-fat’ food, but it also has lower levels of fat-soluble vitamins than full-fat milk. So make sure you get your fat-soluble vitamins from other sources, such as brightly coloured salad or veg served with an oil dressing.

Best for babies

The Department of Health recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months of life – after that you can continue to breastfeed alongside the introduction of your baby's first solid foods. From the age of one, whole cow’s milk may be offered as a drink. Semi-skimmed is an option from two years, and skimmed milk should only be given after five years of age. Always ask your GP or a dietitian for advice if you have queries about breastfeeding or your baby has a milk allergy – some alternatives, like soya drinks, may be unsuitable.

Find out more about breastfeeding.

Choose the right one for you

Check our guide below for your best option. Whether you choose dairy milk or not, always include plenty of non-dairy sources of calcium in your diet, such as canned salmon and sardines, green leafy veg, nuts and seeds, including almonds and sesame seeds.

Traditional cow's milkWhich milk is right for you?

What is it? 

A natural product, rich in protein and a source of calcium. Organic milk contains higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and the cows are less likely to have been exposed to antibiotics and pesticides. Some people prefer homogenised cow’s milk, as homogenisation breaks down the fat molecules, making the milk easier to digest.

Good for... Cereal, porridge and in hot drinks, and naturally nutritious.

Taste: Mild and creamy.

Cooking: Ideal in sauces and bakes.

We tested... Full-fat milk, 45p/pt, Tesco.

Cow's milk (full-fat) nutrition per 100ml
64kcals120mg calcium 3.6g fat 2.3g sat fat 4.6g sugar 3.4g protein


Which milk is right for you?Lactose-free cow’s milk

What is it? Cow’s milk that has been filtered to remove lactose, and has the lactase enzyme added. It contains the same nutrients as regular milk.

Good for... The lactose-intolerant.

Taste: The same as cow’s milk.

Cooking: Works as well as cow’s milk.

We tested... Lactofree Whole lactose-free dairy drink, £1.42/1 litre, Asda.


Lactose-free full-fat cow’s milk nutrition per 100ml
 57kcals 126mg calcium3.5g fat 2.2g sat fat2.8g sugar 3.4g protein 


a2 cow’s milkWhich milk is right for you?

What is it? Milk containing a2 protein only. Cow’s milk consists of a range of proteins, one group being caseins, where the main types are a2 and a1. New research suggests that a1 can cause gut discomfort – if you’ve ruled out lactose-intolerance, you could try a2 milk.

Good for... Those affected by milk protein.

Taste: As good as cow’s milk.

Cooking: Works as well as cow’s milk.

We tested... a2 Whole Milk, £1.39/1 litre, Asda.

a2 cow's full-fat milk nutrition per 100ml
68 kcals 129mg calcium3.5g fat 2.2g sat fat4.7g sugar 3.4g protein 


Which milk is right for you?Goat’s milk

What is it? A natural product, nutritionally similar to cow’s milk.

Good for... People who can’t tolerate cow’s milk, as it has smaller fat particles and less lactose. Works well in tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Taste: A strong, distinctive flavour, slightly sweet with a sometimes salty undertone.

Cooking: Suitable for use in most recipes.

We tested... St Helen’s Farm Whole Goats Milk, £1.60/1 litre, Sainsbury’s.

Goat's milk nutrition per 100ml
61 kcals120mg calcium 3.5g fat 2.4g sat fat 4.3g sugar 2.8g protein


Soy or soya milkWhich milk is right for you?

What is it? Soya ‘milk’ is comparable in protein content to cow’s milk and is low in fat. Soy-based foods can help to manage cholesterol levels, although you need about 25g soy protein, or 3-4 glasses of soya milk a day, to achieve this. Some brands are fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D.

Good for... Non-dairy drinkers who are looking for a low-fat option – check that your brand includes added calcium and vitamins A and D. Mixes well in tea and coffee.

Taste: Nutty and thick, but not sticky.

Cooking: Works well in baking – try it in our dairy-free Blueberry & coconut cake.

We tested... Alpro Soya unsweetened fresh milk alternative, £1.40/1 litre, Tesco.

Soy or soya milk nutrition per 100ml
33 kcals120mg calcium1.8g fat 0.3g sat fat0g sugar 3.3g protein


Which milk is right for you?Almond milk

What is it? A blend of almonds and spring water, fortified with calcium and vitamins, including D and B12.

Good for... Vegans and anyone avoiding animal products, because it’s fortified with vitamin B12. We enjoyed it in hot drinks but felt it worked best in coffee.

Taste: A subtle nutty flavour. Choose unsweetened for day-to-day use.

Cooking: Use in the same quantities as cow’s milk – it makes a good batch of scones.

We tested... Alpro Almond Milk Unsweetened, £1.80/1 litre, Ocado.

Almond milk nutrition per 100ml
13 kcals 120mg calcium 0.9g fat 0.1g sat fat 0g sugar 0.4g protein 


Coconut milkWhich milk is right for you?

What is it? A sweetened coconut drink with added calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. This is lower in protein, with higher levels of saturated fat than most other plant-based options.

Good for... Vegetarians. Try it with your cereal, and in tea and coffee.

Taste: Light, with a hint of coconut.

Cooking: Great for baking, as the coconut flavour won’t overpower the food. Makes a good batch of sweet dairy-free pancakes – the milk is quite thin, so you won’t need as much in your batter.

We tested... Free From Coconut Milk, £1.25/1 litre, Tesco.

Coconut milk nutrition per 100ml
17 kcals 120mg calcium0.9g fat 0.8g sat fat2g sugar 0.1g protein 


Which milk is right for you?Hemp milk

What is it? A blend of hemp seed and water, fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Good for... Hot drinks.

Taste: Mild and slightly sweet.

Cooking: Use in smoothies or sauces, or freeze with fruit and honey for a non-dairy ice cream.

We tested... Braham & Murray Good Hemp Original, £1.50/1 litre, Tesco.

Hemp milk nutrition per 100ml
35 kcals118mg calcium2.8g fat 0.3g sat fat1.8g sugar0.6g protein 


Oat milkWhich milk is right for you?

What is it? Made from oats and enriched with vitamins and calcium. Low in saturated fat.

Good for... A low-fat option with all the goodness of oats.

Taste: Creamy with a slightly powdery aftertaste. 

Cooking: Won’t split when heated, so it's good for a white sauce.

We tested... Oatly Oat Drink Original, £1.50/1 litre, Sainsbury’s.

Oat milk nutrition per 100ml
 45 kcals120mg calcium 1.5g fat 0.2g sat fat 4g sugar 1.0g protein 


Which milk is right for you?Rice milk

What is it? A sweet milk, low in protein and fortified with calcium.

Good for... Those who can’t tolerate dairy or soya.

Taste: Sweet but neutral – doesn’t give hot drinks a milky colour.

Cooking: Thin consistency, so you may need to thicken sauces with a little extra flour.

We tested... Rice Dream, £1.99/1 litre, Holland & Barrett.

Rice milk nutrition per 100ml
47 kcals 120mg calcium 1.0g fat 0.1g sat fat 4g sugar 0.1g protein 

This article was last reviewed on 9 August 2017 by registered nutritionist Kerry Torrens. Prices were correct as of this date.

A registered nutritionist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Do you have a lactose or soya allergy or just prefer the taste of milk alternatives? Let us know in the comments below...


Raw vs cooked

To cook or not to cook? Kerry Torrens explains why some foods are better for you when raw, and why some could benefit from a little heat...

Raw vs cooked

Eating your fruit and vegetables raw is indeed sometimes the healthier option. After all, some vitamins are sensitive to heat, for example, cooking tomatoes for just two minutes decreases their vitamin C content by 10%. However, while cooking may cause the loss of some valuable nutrients, like vitamin C, there are some vegetables which offer useful health benefits when they're cooked.

Raw vs cookedHeat it up

These include carrots, asparagus and even tomatoes, because cooking makes it easier for our bodies to benefit from some of their protective antioxidants, specifically ferulic acid from asparagus, and beta-carotene, which we convert to vitamin A, from carrots. Similarly, when you cook tomatoes - whether you roast them slowly or make a cooked sauce - it helps to break down the plant cell walls, allowing us to better absorb the antioxidant lycopene. All these nutrients help to safeguard our cells from environmental damage, may protect us from certain cancers and are heart-friendly.


Keep it rawRaw vs cooked

On the other hand, there are certainly some veg, which benefit from being eaten raw. These include broccoli and watercress (both members of the cruciferous family). When these veg are heated an important enzyme is damaged, which means the potency of helpful anti-cancer compounds called glucosinolates, are reduced. Similarly, cooking makes the herb garlic less potent because heat reduces the amount of health-promoting allicin, so it's best to add your garlic just before you finish cooking rather than at the start. For those watching their weight, eating some fruit and veg raw can help fill you up because raw fruit and veg tend to be bulkier and have a higher water content.


Make the most of itRaw vs cooked

Although some nutrients are sensitive to heat there are others, like the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), which are unaffected. So whether you choose to eat your fruit and vegetables raw or cooked follow these tips to get the most out of them:

  • Buy local produce, because some vitamins are lost during transportation and storage.
  • Store fruits like tomatoes at room temperature rather than in the fridge - this optimises the ripening process and increases levels of valuable lycopene.
  • Prepare your fruit or veg just before you need them.
  • Avoid losing water-soluble vitamins like the vitamin B group as well as vitamin C, by choosing cooking methods which use the minimal amount of water or preferably no water at all, like roasting. When you boil or steam save the cooking liquor for making sauces or soups.
  • Increase your absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by eating your veggies with a little oil. Enjoy a spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing, roast vine tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil or quickly stir-fry spring greens.
  • At certain times of year it's worth considering frozen produce. That's because these fruit and veg are frozen quickly after picking which means they retain more nutrients than some supposedly 'fresh' produce.
  • Finally, balance your intake. Enjoy crunchy raw veg to top up on immune-busting vitamin C, and cook others for their mix of protective antioxidants.


Recipe suggestions:

Raw vs cookedCooked:

  • Roast tomatoes
  • Roasted asparagus, pancetta & cherry tomato pasta
  • Glazed orange carrots
  • Chard, sweet potato & peanut stew
  • Creamy spinach soup


  • Pea, ham hock & watercress salad
  • Grilled mackerel with orange, chilli & watercress
  • Summer greens & nectarines
  • Fruity fondue
  • Fennel, watercress & pine nut salad


Kerry Torrens is BBC Good Food magazine's nutritional therapist.


The health benefits of nuts

All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits - find out which nut is rich in calcium, which will offer a protein boost and how much fat is in each type with our nutritionist's guide...

The health benefits of nuts

Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are one of this season's best buys. A golf ball-sized portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals. All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits - find your perfect match with our guide...

AlmondsThe health benefits of nuts

If you avoid dairy, calcium-rich almonds are a good choice to ensure you're getting enough of this bone-building mineral. Almonds are also high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help, swap flaked almonds for the whole nut - with the skin intact - because the almond's skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.

Recipe suggestions:
Fruity mincemeat with almonds
Honey crunch granola with almonds & apricots


The health benefits of nutsBrazil nuts

Ideal for those with low thyroid function, Brazils are a good source of the mineral selenium, which we need to produce the active thyroid hormone. Selenium also supports immunity and helps wounds to heal. You only need three or four Brazil nuts a day to get all the selenium you require.

Recipe suggestion:
Tropical treat


CashewsThe health benefits of nuts

Because they contribute a good level of protein and are a useful source of minerals like iron and zinc, cashews make an excellent choice if you're following a vegetarian diet. They're also rich in the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss. Add a handful to a vegetarian stir-fry or use as a nut butter on crackers or bread.

Recipe suggestions:
Broccoli lemon chicken with cashews
Fragrant vegetable & cashew biryani


The health benefits of nutsChestnuts

By far the nut with the lowest fat and calories, chestnuts are rich in starchy carbs and fibre, and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. They're lower in protein than other nuts but make a useful contribution of B vitamins including B6. Ground chestnut flour can be used as a gluten-free flour for cakes and bakes, or buy fresh and roast for a tasty snack.

Recipe suggestions:
Smashed sprouts mash with chestnuts
Autumn chestnut salad


HazelnutsThe health benefits of nuts

Opt for hazelnuts if you're concerned about high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which has been associated with heart problems as well as conditions like Parkinsons. Hazelnuts are a good source of folate, which plays a key role in keeping homocysteine within normal levels.

Recipe suggestions:
Chinese noodles with tofu & hazelnuts
Roast whole fish with salsa romesco


The health benefits of nutsMacadamias

With one of the highest fat contents, macadamias are often used to add flavour and texture to dishes and work well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Although high in fat, they do supply good levels of the healthy mono-unsaturated variety. They're a rich source of fibre and make a useful contribution of minerals including magnesium, calcium and potassium. Buy in small batches and store carefully to avoid rancidity.

Recipe suggestions:
Beetroot & fennel gratin with macadamia & hazelnut dukkah 
Macadamia & cranberry American cookies


PecansThe health benefits of nuts

Heart-friendly pecans are packed with plant sterols, valuable compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. They're rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado. As a good source of vitamin B3 pecans are the perfect option if you're fighting fatigue because this vitamin helps us access the energy in our food.

Recipe suggestions:
Maple pecan beans
Cranberry pecan baked apples


The health benefits of nutsPistachios

Being especially rich in vitamin B6, which is important for keeping hormones balanced and healthy, pistachios are a good option for those with problem periods. They're the only nut to contain reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the eyes. Pistachios also contain potassium and fibre - in fact a 30g serving has more than three times that supplied by the equivalent weight of plums.

Recipe suggestions:
Grapefruit, agave & pistachio salad
Moroccan spiced pie


WalnutsThe health benefits of nuts

Their superior antioxidant content means walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. They're also a good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). Finally, they're rich in omega-3, so they're a great alternative if you don't eat oily fish.

Recipe suggestions:
Spaghetti with walnuts, raisins & parsley
Winter leaf & parsnip salad with walnuts


Worried about the fat content?

Nuts are high in fat, but much of it is the heart-healthy variety. The amounts of saturated fat, the type of fat we should avoid, varies between nuts and has been flagged below. Aim to eat those in the amber and green bands most of the time and enjoy those in red category occasionally.


Red (high saturated fat content)

The health benefits of nutsBrazil nuts


Amber (medium saturated fat content)

The health benefits of nutsWalnuts


Green (low saturated fat content)

The health benefits of nutsHazelnuts



This article was last reviewed on 27th September 2017 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

A registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.



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