Did you know June is National Dairy Month? It is a great time to learn more about dairy foods and how they fit into a healthy-eating pattern.
All age groups except for young children 1-3 years old are below the recommended intake for dairy foods according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dairy provides many health benefits, so it is important to add more fat-free and low-fat dairy foods to your meals and snacks.
Dairy is Nutritious
Milk is the foundation for all dairy foods and only has three ingredients. It is a nutrient powerhouse by containing nine essential nutrients. Milk is well-known for having calcium that helps build bones and teeth and maintains bone mass. Milk and yogurt provide potassium, which may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vitamin D is added to milk to help the body work with calcium and phosphorous to help build and maintain bones. Protein helps build and maintain healthy muscles and bones. Dairy products are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition and has been linked to improved bone health.
How Much Dairy Foods Do I Need Daily?
The amount of dairy foods you need to eat daily depends on your age. Older children, teens and adults need 3 cups of dairy foods per day, while children 4-8 years old need 2 ½ cups and children 2-3 years old need 2 cups.
Generally, I cup of milk, yogurt or soymilk, 1 ½ ounces of natural chees or 2 ounces of processed cheese counts as 1 cup from the Dairy Group. Cream cheese, cream and butter are not part of the diary food group since they contain little or no calcium and re higher in saturated fat.
6 Ways to Add More Fat-free or Low-fat Dairy Foods
- Eat cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Mix fat-free or low-fat milk with your oatmeal.
- Top a baked potato with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Make a yogurt parfait by layering fat-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and topped with a whole grain cereal.
- Drink a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk with a meal.
- If you cannot drink milk due to being lactose intolerant, try yogurt, lactose-free milk or fortified soymilk to help get your calcium. Realize the nutrient profile varies between each type of milk and milk alternative.