Health Benefits Of Dairy Foods

Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt taste great but they are also good for you. Dairy foods are packed with important nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin D. Most of us have heard that milk products help keep our bones strong, but did you know that the nutrients found in dairy foods can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure and may also help you to maintain a healthy weight? 

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that children ages 2-8 eat 2 cups of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods each day and those ages 9 and older, including adults, should eat 3. In addition to one cup of milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese count as a dairy serving. Most of us fall short on getting enough servings of dairy foods each day. Here are some tips to help you and your family get more dairy in your diet:

  • Make it milk with meals- Instead of soda or fruit drinks, serve your family nutrient-rich low-fat or fat-free milk at the dinner table.
  • Just say cheese- Add reduced-fat cheese to vegetables, casseroles and sandwiches for extra flavor and nutrients.
  • Savor the flavor- Flavored milk such as chocolate or strawberry is a healthy option for kids, especially kids who aren’t big fans of unflavored milk. In fact, research shows that kids who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs, don’t have higher intakes of sugar, calories or fat and do not have higher BMI’s (Body Mass Index) than non-milk drinkers.
  • Do the dip- Use low-fat yogurt as a dip for fruits and vegetables. Try adding ranch seasoning to plain yogurt for vegetables and use your favorite fruit flavored yogurt for dipping fruit.
  • Mix it with milk- Add fat-free or low-fat milk to hot cereals and soups instead of water.
  • Say yes to smoothies- Blend some milk, yogurt and frozen fruit together for a delicious breakfast or snack. 
  • Go Greek-For the perfect breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up, grab Greek yogurt.  Like traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is rich in calcium and other important nutrients, however Greek yogurt is higher in protein so it may help to keep you feeling satisfied longer and prevent snack attacks. 

For a delicious appetizer that includes nutrient-rich dairy foods, try this recipe for Hot Pizza Dip.

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