Health Tip #6 - Dairy

In our recent health tip series, we've been covering the five categories of My Plate.  We're covering the ideal intake recommendations for vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and proteins as well as how to simply and deliciously incorporate them into your everyday life! If you've been following along, you'll remember that Health Tip #5, was about grains.  So how did you do? Did you make the conversion to include "whole" grains instead of "refined" grains in your diet? 
Todays tip is covering the mighty and sometimes "cheesy" subject of dairy. But don't have a cow! Those of you who don't eat dairy are included in this discussion: read on!

The benefits of consuming dairy can include such effects as: improved bone health, improved blood pressure, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. These fantastic benefits are all thanks mainly to the primary nutrients that dairy products can contain:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin D
  • & Protein

To get these benefits, a healthy adult* should aim for a total of 3 servings of dairy per day. "Great," you say, "I'll have three cups of pudding for dessert tonight and I'm set, right?" Unfortunately you're way off, and I think you know it.

The key here is to choose lean (specifically low in saturated fat and cholesterol) dairy products, like skim milk, 2% milk or non-fat yogurts. When we talk about 1 serving of dairy, this looks like 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, or 1 cup of non-dairy, calcium-fortified alternative. These would be things like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or rice milk that has been fortified with calcium.
For things like cheese, 1 serving is about 1½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheesed. 

Some desserts are also dairy-based, like frozen yogurt or pudding made with milk. While these should be limited, 1 cup of "fro-yo" or 1 ½ cups pudding can count as 1 cup of dairy too.

Intake Challenge: Determine what dairy products you currently consume and take one small step to make them leaner options. For example, do you currently use half-n-half in your coffee every morning? Try using 2% milk... or even just start with using whole milk. Whole has about 9-15% less fat than half-and-half! I bet you won't even notice!

For more ideas on how to incorporate more dairy (or calcium-rich alternatives into your daily routine and for personalized nutrient recommendations, contact me to set up your initial nutrition consultation today!

*These recommendations are for healthy adults (18-64 years of age) with 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

Carly Cooley