Did you know that June is National Dairy Month? It was created to promote milk intake during the summer months so that everyone would get the health benefits of dairy year-round. Dairy products are a great addition to any healthy diet and are packed with calcium, potassium, and fortified vitamin D. Calcium is important for bone health, wound healing, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and muscle contractions. High potassium intake is associated with reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Vitamin D is important for the formation, growth, and repair of bones. A standard cup of 1% milk contains about 102 calories, 2.4 grams of fat, 8.2 grams of protein, 10% daily value of potassium, 32% daily value for vitamin D, and about a 1/3 daily value of calcium.
According to the dietary guidelines evidence rating, there are studies that show milk products have been linked to improved bone health, especially among children and adolescents. In addition to bone health, there is some research that shows dairy intake is linked to better weight management, reduced hyperglycemia, and decreased hypertension.
The current recommendation for dairy is 3 cups per day for people ages 9 and over. Many Americans fall short on this recommendation, with a large percentage due to lactose intolerance. There are about 30 to 50 million Americans who are lactose intolerant. Yogurt, which contains less lactose per serving than milk, may be a more easily digestible alternative for some. There are also many lactose-free dairy products available such as Lactaid, soy milk, and almond milk. When choosing milk, both the American Heart Association and DASH diet recommends low-fat dairy for optimum health. For Children under the age of 2, whole milk is recommended for growth and development.
Tips for increasing dairy:
• Make oatmeal with skim or 1% milk instead of water
• Eat yogurt as a snack, instead of chips
• Add skim or 1% milk to coffee
• Try low-fat yogurt parfait as dessert
• Add low fat or nonfat cheese to vegetables, or mix fresh fruit with low-fat cheese
• Add one of milk to the meal instead of juice or soda
• Use yogurt as an alternative to mayonnaise
Breakfast Smoothie Recipe
• Prep. Time 5 mins
• Yields 2 to 3 servings
1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup (250 mL) plain low-fat yogurt or low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt
1 cup (250 mL) 1% milk
1 cup (250 mL) mixed fruit, (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp (15 mL) honey
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
In a blender, or in a tall cup using an immersion blender, combine banana, yogurt, milk, mixed fruit, honey and vanilla extract and puree until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately.