June is National Dairy month, so grab yourself a nice cold glass of milk and celebrate! The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we meet our food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components. In recognition of National Dairy month we will highlight the importance of the dairy food group by reviewing dairy food group needs, servings and health benefits. It is important to include dairy foods in the diet at every stage of life. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose nutrient dense dairy foods that are low in fat, sugar and sodium because these options are better for your health. Let’s take a closer look at the dairy food group.
Are You Getting Enough?
Did you know that almost 90% of the United States population does not get enough dairy in their diet? Part of this problem is that most people don’t know how much they need. The exact amount of dairy needed depends on age, gender, height, weight and level of activity. A person between the ages of 19-59 that consumes a 2,000 calorie diet needs around three cups of milk daily. To find out your exact dairy needs click this link https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan for more information.
What Counts as a cup in the Dairy Food Group?
- 1 cup dairy milk or yogurt
- 1 cup lactose-free dairy milk or yogurt
- 1 cup fortified soy milk or yogurt
- 1½ ounces hard cheese
- ⅓ cup shredded cheese
- 1 ounce processed cheese (American)
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 2 ounces Queso fresco
Nutrients and Health Benefits
Foods in the dairy group provide vitamins and minerals needed for good health such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, phosphorus, riboflavin, zinc, choline, magnesium, selenium, and protein. Calcium is important in building and maintaining strong bones. It also helps with muscle strength as we get older. Potassium helps maintain a normal blood pressure and vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.
Reference: United States Department of Agriculture MyPlate (May, 2020). Eat Healthy - Dairy. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/dairyindex.html.