Donna Quirk, MBA, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center
We hear a lot about eating a balanced diet and that means including dairy foods.
For people age 9 years and older, 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods are recommended every day. Children age 2 – 3 years old need 2 servings a day and children 4 – 8 year old need 2 ½ servings a day.
There are few foods that pack the nutrition punch that a single cup of milk does. It is quite impressive.
1 cup of milk contains –
30% Daily Value of Calcium to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium also plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting.
25% Daily Value of Vitamin D if fortified. Vitamin D helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralization. Milk is one of the few food sources of this important nutrient.
16% Daily Value of Protein. Protein from milk contains all of the essential amino acids or “building blocks” of protein. Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue. As we age, more emphasis is being put on maintaining lean muscle. The protein in milk can help.
22% Daily Value of Vitamin B12 to help build red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles.
26% Daily Value of Riboflavin which helps convert food into energy – a process crucial for exercising muscles.
25% Daily Value of Phosphorus to help strengthen bones and generate energy in the body’s cells.
Milk is also a good source of Potassium, Vitamin A, and Niacin.
If you are lactose-intolerant, it is important to lactose-reduced dairy foods to get the benefits of all the nutrients they have to offer.
Low-fat or fat free yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and flavored milk are also great dairy food choices. So what are some ways to eat dairy foods besides drinking a glass of milk? There are so many options!
Have you tried?
- Yogurt Parfait (yogurt mixed with fruit and granola; a high fiber breakfast cereal and almonds or walnuts)
- Breakfast Sandwich (English muffin, one egg and a slice of reduced fat cheese)
- Reduced-fat cheese in any sandwich
- Smoothies or Fruit filled Milkshakes
- Freeze yogurt and eat like a popsicle
- Veggies, avocado, Reduced fat cheese, and salsa all wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
With all the great benefits, remember to include dairy foods. You’ll be glad you did!
Source: National Dairy Council. http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org