It seems like every week there is a new product claiming to promise nutrition and improve your health, but did you know the dairy products you’ve loved for years are packed with nutrition? Here are three clues to help you uncover the nutrition in dairy foods:
- Inspect the ingredient label: While milk is listed in the ingredients, what you don’t see is that milk comes with NINE essential nutrients for our health.
- Examine the benefits beyond bone health: It’s widely known dairy products provide calcium to build strong bones, but milk, cheese and yogurt actually provide an entire package of nine nutrients, which also includes high-quality protein to support muscle health.
- Explore its versatility: Dairy can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks to help make healthy and clean eating simple. Getting the recommended three servings of dairy every day is a cinch once you discover the possibilities.
What Can YOU Do NOW?
- Resolve to get three servings of milk, cheese and yogurt every day by pledging Dairy 3 for Me.
- Make milk – white or flavored – your mealtime beverage. All milk contains nine essential nutrients; think of it as nutrition in disguise!
- Solve breakfast boredom. Add an ounce of cheese to a quick breakfast burrito or swirl yogurt into a smoothie bowl.
- Sneak in healthier eating by pairing cheese with fresh fruit or vegetables. Research shows when cheese is coupled with these foods, it helps kids eat more of all of them.
- No need to reach for a fancy sports drink after a workout. Instead, recover with a tall glass of chocolate milk; it’s been proven to be more effective in aiding tired muscles.
- Boost nutrition and flavor by adding shredded cheese to casseroles, soups and pasta dishes, or sprinkle on top of tacos and chili.
MY Favorite Dairy Recipes
- Easy to Please Breakfast Yogurt Parfait
- Rainbow Fruit and Cheese Kabobs
- Blues Buster Smoothie
- Raspberry-Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
- Power-Up Muffin Cups
- Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
- Baked Zucchini Ziti
- Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole
- Pulled Pork Soft Tacos
- Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup
Dairy Q and A:
Don’t most people already know dairy is good for them?
Research conducted by Midwest Dairy Association uncovered some interesting misconceptions when it comes to dairy nutrition knowledge. Findings showed only one-third of us understand milk to be one of the best sources of protein and other nutrients. Additionally, less than one-third of us understand the nutritional difference between milk and milk alternatives such as soy, almond or rice beverage. What’s more, nearly three-quarters falsely believe all milk alternatives are less processed than milk.
What health and nutrition benefits do dairy products provide?
Three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt play a vital role in building and maintaining a healthy diet which can positively contribute to your overall health and well-being. Dairy nutrition facts show that together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide a unique package of nine essential nutrients: Calcium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, niacin (or niacin equivalents.) From helping repair muscle tissue to maintaining healthy red blood cells, the nine nutrients in milk work together to help keep the body in optimal health.
What are the recommended servings of milk and milk products a person should consume each day?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognizes that milk and milk products are linked to improved bone health, especially in children and teens, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adults. The Guidelines calls for families to increase their intake of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt, with a goal of three servings every day for people ages nine and older.
Can a person still enjoy dairy even though they are lactose intolerant?
Yes! Lactose intolerance doesn’t have to mean dairy intolerance. And, many health authorities agree that milk and other dairy products are an important and practical source of key nutrients, for all people – including those who are lactose intolerant. People who have difficulty digesting lactose can still enjoy dairy. According to an expert panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine lactose intolerance and health, eliminating dairy products may not only be unnecessary to manage lactose intolerance, but also may lead to nutrient shortcomings which may result in adverse health effects.
How do milk alternatives compare to milk?
There are many milk alternatives out there, including rice, coconut, almond and nut, hemp, and soy beverages. However, these drinks are not technically milk, they contain a fewer number of the nutrients in dairy and at lower levels. What sets milk apart from milk alternatives is its nutritional package. Milk provides nine essential nutrients, as compared to milk alternatives which have fewer nutrients in variable amounts, depending on the type you choose. For instance, the protein nutrient in almond, coconut and rice milks is significantly less than the 8 grams of protein in an 8-ounce serving of milk. Milk products are one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium which may be more readily available to the body to help build bones than the calcium in calcium-fortified milk alternatives. Milk remains a better option than beverages that are often lacking an essential nutrient or more.
Are flavored milks a good choice for kids?
Yes, flavored milks have their place in a well-balanced diet. They provide the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, and dairy health facts gathered from research* shows that children who drink flavored milk have higher total milk intakes compared to those who drink exclusively white milk. This same research shows that milk drinkers – both white and flavored – do not have higher BMIs compared to non-milk drinkers.
*Murphy, M.M., J.S. Douglass, R.K. Johnson, et al J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 108: 631, 2008.
Flavored milks are also a fun way to get some kids interested in milk who might not enjoy white milk. It ensures that they get those necessary nutrients in dairy.
Does flavored milk contain more sugar than a soft drink?
When comparing milk to other beverages for sugar content, it is important to look at added sugars since all milk contains some natural sugar, called lactose. And because each manufacturer has a unique formula, added sugar content may vary among flavored milk products. On average, an 8-ounce serving of low-fat chocolate milk contains about four teaspoons of added sugar, while an equivalent amount of a soft drink contains seven teaspoons. Plus, milk delivers more nutrition than soft drinks. Unlike soft drinks and fruit drinks, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines does not list flavored milk as a sugar-sweetened beverage. And in fact, the Dietary Guidelines recommends added sugars to increase the palatability of nutrient-dense foods, as in the case of fat-free chocolate milk.
Can cheese fit into a healthy diet?
Yes, cheese is nutritious. It contributes many essential nutrients to Americans’ diets — not only is it a valuable source of protein, but also calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc. Cheese contributes only 8 percent of the sodium, 9 percent of total fat and 5 percent of total calories to the U.S. diet. Cheese fits into most eating plans, such as the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), Mediterranean, plant-based, vegetarian, gluten-free and low-lactose diets, among others.
Dairy foods carry with them the nutrition to power our day. For recipes and more tips to good nutrition, be sure to subscribe to my blog!