The dairy food group includes all fluid milk products and many foods made from milk. When choosing milk products, you should choose low-fat or fat-free! They have just as much calcium as other choices, but much less cholesterol, which contributes to heart disease. This also goes for yogurt and cheeses--choose low-fat (1%) or fat free. Examples of dairy products include:
- fluid milk--even strawberry and chocolate flavored milks
- cheddar cheese
- mozzarella cheese
- swiss cheese
- parmesan cheese
- ricotta cheese
- cottage cheese
- american cheese
- all yogurts
- ice cream
Why do you need dairy?
Consuming dairy products provides health benefits--especially for your bones. Dairy group products have nutrients like:
- calcium: used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone mass
- potassium: used to maintain blood pressure
- Vitamin D: functions in the body to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, thereby helping to build and maintain bones
The intake of dairy products is especially important during childhood and adolescence, when bone mass is being built. Dairy is linked to improved bone health and decreased risks for osteoporosis. Dairy also reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
So, how much dairy?
For adults and children older than 9 years old, the USDA recommends 3 cups of dairy each day. This could be 8 ounces of fluid milk, 6 ounces of yogurt or 1/3 cup shredded cheese! For specific guidelines from the USDA for more dairy products, click here.
Tips for getting enough dairy:
- Choose milk as your beverage! When eating lunch or dinner, drink fat-free or low-fat milk instead of a soda.
- If you drink whole milk, switch to lower saturated fat and calorie milk! You can do this gradually by first switching to 2%, then 1%, and finally fat-free.
- Make low-fat or fat-free puddings for desserts!
- Use low-fat or reduced-fat cheese when cooking.
- Eat yogurt as a healthy snack! Remember to choose low-fat or fat-free.
Remember, a varied diet is best for getting all of the nutrients you need! So check out the rest of the information on this site about veggies, fruits, proteins and grains.
Information provided by the USDA