Did you know that June is National Dairy Month? Whether you’re eating cheese, ice cream, yogurt or drinking milk in your morning coffee, dairy products are one of the largest food groups in the American diet!
Unfortunately, dairy has gotten some negative press over the past few years because many fad diets claim it’s “bad” and should be avoided. The truth is, research has shown that unless you are lactose intolerant or are allergic to any of the proteins found in dairy products, dairy products can fit into your day.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes dairy on their MyPlate as one of the five building blocks for a healthy diet because of the fact it’s an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. It can also be a great source of protein for some. Milk and all milk products that retain their calcium content, as well as calcium-fortified soymilk, are included in this group.
National Dairy Month began back in 1937 as National Milk Month as a means to promote drinking milk and stabilize the dairy demand when there was a production surplus. Today, National Dairy Month is simply a celebration of the bounty of dairy products available.
The major nutrients you get from dairy products are calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
- Calcium is necessary for building strong bones and maintaining bone mass. It’s important at every life stage – in childhood to aid in growth and development and in adulthood to prevent osteoporosis.
- Potassium can be found in yogurt, fluid milk and fortified soymilk and is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure, fluid balance and muscle contraction. It works in conjunction with sodium to balance blood pressure and fluid levels.
- Vitamin D has become a nutrient of concern over the past few years. This fat soluble vitamin is fortified into all dairy products because vitamin D is necessary for maintaining proper levels of calcium and phosphorous in the body, which makes it an important player in building and maintaining bone health.
- Protein in dairy products is a big reason why milk and Greek yogurt are so popular – and often used as pre- or post-workout snacks. Milk provides 8 grams of protein per serving, which can keep you satiated for longer and help muscle growth.
It is important to note that full-fat dairy products do contain quite a bit of saturated fat. Besides children under 2 years old, it’s best to opt for low-fat dairy products. You’ll still get the same amount of nutrients, but with a lot less fat!
Even though milk and dairy products are slowly losing their popularity, it’s still a great way to get lots of nutrients for not a lot of calories. So celebrate National Dairy Month by trying any of the ideas below!
- Drink kefir as a snack or as a workout recovery supplement.
- Prepare your oatmeal with milk instead of water for a nutritious boost.
- Make chicken salad with shredded chicken, cranberries, celery and non-fat Greek yogurt.
- Try your cereal with calcium and vitamin D-fortified soymilk.
- Add low-fat milk to your morning smoothie.
- Top your salad with low-fat shredded cheese of your choice.
If you choose not to include dairy in your diets, that’s perfectly Okay! But do keep in mind that most non-dairy alternatives don’t naturally contain the calcium and vitamin D that regular dairy products do, so look for products that are fortified to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs!
Your turn to take action:How will you celebrate National Dairy Month? Let me know in the comments below!