Celebrate Calcium During National Dairy Month - Eat More Cheese & Yogurt, Drink More Milk!
Information provided by the American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health
June is National Dairy Month - a great time to evaluate the amount of dairy in your diet.
Research continues to show that calcium is important to everyones' health. Beyond building strong teeth and bones, calcium may play an important role in reducing your risk of hypertension, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer and may also aid in weight management. Calcium that is naturally contained in food seems to provide the greatest benefit, though research is continuing on the benefits of calcium supplements.
Milk, cheese and yogurt are our body's best sources of calcium and riboflavin. Without dairy foods, getting enough calcium for bone health can be difficult.
Dairy products not only are a good source of calcium but they also provide other essential nutrients for a healthy body including vitamin D, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin and niacin.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend children and adults alike consume three servings every day of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. For picky eaters, flavored milks often help make it easy to meet kids' daily calcium requirements. Flavored milks contain more sugar and more calories than white milk, but registered dietitians say the rich nutritional content of the milk makes it an acceptable trade-off.
Look for ways to include dairy foods in your daily meal plan. In an effort to reduce calories, be sure to choose low-fat and fat-free varieties often. For breakfast, along with cereal, try a smoothie made with yogurt. For lunch, sprinkle shredded cheese on your favorite soup or salad or add cheese to your sandwich. For dinner, top a baked potato with melted cheese and vegetables or mix up a yogurt dip with veggies.
Even if you are lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy the benefits of dairy foods:
- Enjoy yogurt. It contains active cultures that have less lactose.
- Eat cheese because it is naturally low in lactose.
- Drink small portions of milk with your favorite foods throughout the day to improve your ability to break down lactose, milk's natural sugar.
- Enjoy lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk and other dairy foods.