Dairy products are part of a well balanced meal. Adults should aim for three servings of dairy each day, including milk, yogurt, and cheese. The dairy group does not include food items made from milk due to containing low amounts of calcium and high fat content such as cream cheese, sour cream, cream, and butter.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, potassium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc. Dairy products are the main source of calcium in American diets.
- Calcium amounts needed for our bones increase as we age. This is due to losing more calcium more rapidly than in our younger years. Those who consume more calcium have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Potassium helps to maintain healthy blood pressure by regulating fluid and getting rid of excess sodium in our bodies. Milk and yogurt provide good amounts of potassium.
- Protein is important to build and repair muscles and bone while promoting healthy skin and hair. Our body also uses protein as an energy source.
- Vitamin D helps the body maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, helping build and maintain bones and teeth. It supports health of our immune system, brain, and nervous system. It also helps regulate insulin levels and supports diabetes management.
- Zinc has been found to help support your immune system and metabolism. It is important for wound healing.
If you are someone who doesn’t consume dairy products, try lactose-free milk or fortified soy milk. Other dairy milk alternatives made from plants such as almond, rice, coconut, oat, and hemp may contain some calcium but they are not considered part of the dairy group. Their nutrition content is not similar to dairy milk.
Try this healthy smoothie recipe for a serving (and then some) of dairy!
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
• 2 cups frozen strawberries
• 1 banana, peeled
• Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Add additional milk if you like a thinner smoothie. Try other fruits such as peaches or mixed berries as well as other healthy ingredients to make your own smoothie recipe!
Sources: unl.edu, myplate.gov