Discussing dairy issues might not make you the darling of the cocktail party circuit, but it seems that each day shines some new light on the murky issue of milk. Controversy curdles around the subject of dairy products, from price supports to inadequate consumption to inefficient digestion. But the latest findings bring a glimmer of hope to people with high blood pressure.
According to a study by Dr. David McCarron, head of the hypertension division of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, calcium deficiency may play a part in hypertension. Several experimental subjects experienced a drop in blood pressure when they increased their calcium consumption while leaving sodium intake unaltered.
Hypertensives often consume less calcium than the normal person, McCarron says. The hypertensive black man, for instance, typically consumes half of the recommended allowance per day. It's easy to fall into calcium deficiency, he points out, when you restrict dairy products from your diet. Dairy products are sometimes eliminated from the diets of heart patients and people with high blood pressure in order to reduce sodium or fats in the diet.
The idea that hypertensives can eat cheese and yogurt, which are high in sodium, is unconventional and will no doubt be debated for years to come by those who "give up old ideas very reluctantly," says McCarron. But health concerns aren't the only controversial issues surrounding dairy products.
Milk toast has moved into the rarefied atmosphere of politics, dairy products being a major focus of agriculture legislation. Consumers keeping a keen eye on government spending are plenty interested in dairy price supports. The $2.11 billion spent to bolster dairy product prices for dairy farmers allows American taxpayers to claim ownership of 400 million pounds of butter, 800 million pounds of cheese and 1.2 billion pounds of nonfat dry milk.
They cannot have their milk and drink it too, however. Dairy products remain in storage to keep prices on the supermarket shelves high enough to guarantee profits for dairy farmers.
According to Wilmer Mizell, assistant secretary of agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will give unlimited quantities of dairy products to public schools, food banks and other distribution groups. While this may not check the growing dairy supplies, it may defer the calcium deficiency prevalent in young people, particularly teen-age girls, according to the USDA food consumption surveys.
While many people may be reluctant to drink milk by the glassful, it's possible to introduce calcium into the diet through yogurt, cream soups, cream sauces, quiches, puddings and dark green vegetables. Indeed, a calcium-laden meal is possible with just a short trip through the supermarket express lane.
EXPRESS LANE LIST: eggs; milk; chicken, turkey or mushrooms; pimiento or green pepper; peas; cheese; broccoli; lemon. CREPES (Makes about 15) 2 eggs Dash salt 1 cup flour 1 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons 2 tablespoons melted butter Vegetable oil
Place eggs in small bowl and beat well with salt. Gradually add flour alternately with milk, beating vigorously with whisk to work out all lumps. Beat in butter. Set batter aside to rest, preferably (but not necessarily) for an hour or so.
Heat a 6- or 8-inch skillet. Brush it evenly but liberally with vegetable oil. Place over medium-high heat and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of batter. Turn the pan quickly to coat the bottom of the skillet entirely with a very thin layer, working quickly as the batter begins to set immediately. Cook until brown on the bottom. Flip, if desired, to brown on the other side. Remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. CHICKEN CREPES (6 servings) 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1 1/2 tablespoons flour 1 cup milk 1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese Salt and pepper to taste 2 cups cooked chicken, turkey or saute'ed mushrooms 1/4 cup chopped pimiento or chopped green pepper 1 cup peas* 12 crepes
Heat butter in saucepan and add flour. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook until thickened. Add 1/2 cup cheese and lots of freshly ground pepper. Stir briefly until melted. Combine chicken, pimiento and peas. Add the sauce to the chicken mixture and stir to bind. Divide the mixture evenly among 12 crepes, rolling the crepes to enclose the filling inside. Place the crepes in a lightly greased oblong baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Heat at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crepes are heated through.
*If using frozen peas, thaw them under hot running water and drain well. If using canned peas, drain them. If using fresh peas, cook them briefly. STEAMED BROCCOLI (6 servings) 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste
Steam broccoli florets in covered saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until bright green and just tender. Melt butter in large skillet and add lemon juice. Add broccoli florets and toss to coat with lemon/butter mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.