dairy foods

Eating healthy can be dairy delicious!

Dairy products are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition and make healthy eating easy. Together, milk, cheese, and yogurt provide a unique package of nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin (niacin equivalents).

What is Dairy?

With the number of food items being compared to dairy or loosely referred to as dairy products, you might ask “What is dairy?” Dairy is any product made from cow’s milk, such as cheese, yogurt and butter. There are dairy products made from goat and sheep milk, but these foods do not measure up to the nutritious cow’s milk. Cow’s milk and other healthy dairy products provide nutrition necessary for a balanced diet and bone health. Products marketed as “milk alternatives” have many more ingredients, are more processed and do not deliver the nine essential nutrients milk and dairy products do.

Milk and Milk Alternatives

While milk varies in fat content and flavor, every type — from whole, low-fat or fat-free to chocolate — delivers nine essential nutrients. The addition of flavoring and sugar does not take away any of these nutrients. Although flavored milks have added sugars, they account for less than 50 calories per serving — a small amount compared to how many nutrients it can provide both children and adults. Almost one-half of the sugar is naturally occurring lactose, which is found in all milk.

The body absorbs and digests the essential amino acids found in dairy protein better than almond or rice proteins. Compared to most milk alternatives, cow’s milk also has higher amounts of more absorbable calcium, making cow’s milk a great choice for supporting bone and muscle health. Bone health is so important because bones provide structure for the body, protect organs and act as support for muscles and tissue. They can better perform these functions when they are strong. There is much emphasis on ensuring good bone health for growing children, but adults need it too. It’s not too late to take care of your bones as an adult!

Dairy products contribute the nutrients required for a healthy diet. In fact, health experts point to dairy products as a daily necessity! Which one is your favorite?

Learn more from Midwest Dairy.