dairy foods

Get Your Daily Dose of Dairy for the Health of It

Are you getting at least 3 servings of dairy foods a day? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, this is a common question that I ask my clients to see if they are getting key nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most Americans don’t get enough of these nutrients. Young children under nine years old should aim for at least 2 – 2 ½ servings per day.You can get these nutrients in other foods and beverages, but milk, yogurt and cheese offer you the best nutritional bang for your buck. From a health standpoint, the science favors consuming dairy foods for bone health, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, type2 diabetes, and lowering blood pressure in adults.

Milk: for protein and essential nutrients 

Milk offers high quality protein with an average of 8 grams per cup, as well as nine essential nutrients. At every age, milk is a source of important nutrients. On average, milk provides about 6 to 19 percent of protein, 3 to 9 percent of calories and 6 to 14 percent of fat in global diets.

Yogurt: for a healthier digestive system 

Yogurt, a cultured milk product, is popular for many people who are turning to it for gut health and overall immune function. By its cultured nature, yogurt contains probiotics or “friendly” bacteria that have been shown to keep your digestive system functioning well.

Cheese: for a filling, nutritious snack

Cheese is a go-to ingredient in many global cultural cuisines. Whether you add it to a meal or snack, cheese satisfies the appetite – and a little goes a long way. Made from milk, cheese contains many of the same nutrients: protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus.

What is a serving of dairy?

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese (i.e., cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan cheese)
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese (i.e., American cheese)
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese or ½ cup ricotta cheese

Try these tasty and simple ways to get dairy into your day:

  • Cook your morning oatmeal with a cup of milk.
  • Add milk to your fruit smoothie.
  • Pour milk over your morning muesli.
  • Enjoy a glass of milk with your meals.
  • Mix a dollop of plain yogurt into tuna, chicken or egg salad with Dijon mustard and curry powder.
  • Bring a cup of yogurt and fresh fruit with you as a snack.
  • Make yogurt parfaits with raw oats and fresh fruit for breakfast.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese into wraps, on pizza or on top of chili.
  • Grill Provolone cheese on a slice of whole grain bread with a slice of tomato.
  • Dollop cottage cheese into a melon for breakfast.
  • Spread ricotta cheese on whole grain crackers and top with thinly sliced cucumbers and roasted red peppers.

Vicki Shanta Retelny RDN LDN

Vicki Retelny, RDN, LDN

About Victoria

Vicki Shanta Retelny is a lifestyle nutrition expert, author of Total Body Diet for Dummies and culinary consultant who lives in Chicago with her husband, two children and a pet pug. She blogs at simplecravingsrealfood.com.

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