From the Kitchen of Debra Loder, RDN
June is National Dairy Month! Originally established as a grocery/milk promotion in 1937, National Dairy Month now acts as a reminder of the health benefits that dairy products provide. They contain essential nutrients — including calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. Dairy products also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. They may also help us to better manage our weight.
Dairy is one of the 5 Food Groups in MyPlate. The dairy food group includes fluid milk and products made from milk. Yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream are all dairy products.
According to MyPlate, we should choose fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt. The kind of fat found in dairy products is saturated fat which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Fat is also high in calories so if you are trying to reduce the number of calories you eat each day, choosing fat-free or low-fat options makes sense. In addition to watching the fat content of dairy products, it is best to skip added sugar when you can. Although strawberry and chocolate flavored milk do contain protein, calcium, vitamin D and other beneficial nutrients, the added sugar increases the calorie content of these beverages.
Most adults need about 3 servings of dairy each day. A serving is 1 cup of fluid milk, 1 cup of yogurt, ½ cup of cottage cheese, or 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein with 1 cup containing a whopping 23 g.
Some studies show that milk is better than water or sports drinks for quenching thirst after a workout. This is because milk is rich in sodium and potassium, both of which help retrain fluids so that you sweat less. In addition, the protein in milk aids in quick muscle recovery.
This month make sure that you are enjoying foods from the dairy food group by drinking a glass of milk with a meal, snacking on a Greek yogurt fruit parfait, pairing some cheddar cheese with a crisp apple, or even topping a scoop of ice cream with some fresh berries.
Happy Dairy Month!