June is National Dairy Month! Do you know how many servings of dairy you need each day? MyPlate recommends that kids and adults over the age of 9 get at least 3 cups of milk or milk products every day. When you consume three cups a day, you are getting the nutrients your body needs that the dairy group provides.
The first nutrient from the dairy group that may come to your mind is calcium. Calcium is known for building strong bones and teeth. It also helps you maintain bone mass as you age. Another important nutrient is potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Have you ever noticed that most dairy products are fortified with vitamin D? Vitamin D helps your body absorb and metabolize calcium, thus helping your body maintain proper levels of calcium. Additionally, eating the recommended servings from the dairy group is associated with lower blood pressure in adults and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
There is some debate in the nutrition world currently about saturated fat. Dairy products contain saturated fat because they come from animals. The problem with a diet being too high in saturated fats is that they raise the “bad” cholesterol (known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein) levels in your blood. A presence of high LDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. When you follow MyPlate’s recommendation to choose low-fat and non-fat diary products, you are helping your saturated fat intake and your bad cholesterol levels from becoming too high. You can read up more on saturated fats by clicking here.
Occasionally a person may have dietary restrictions or may simply choose not to eat diary products. Even so, it is important to make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet. Choose from these great calcium options:
- Calcium-fortified juice, cereal, bread
- Rice or almond milk
- Canned fish (sardines, salmon with bones)
- Soybeans and other soy products
- Beans (white beans, black eyed peas)
- Leafy Greens (collard and turnip greens, kale, bok choy)
For more on making wise choices from the dairy group and other calcium options, click here.
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant