Eat and Drink Dairy Products for Health
Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.
Got milk? Chances are good that even if you consume milk and other milk products, you're not meeting the recommended amount, especially if you're female. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), most Americans fall below the recommended servings of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Generally, females consume less than males, and intake declines with age. Adults should aim for three servings of dairy products per day. A standard dairy serving is one cup of milk or yogurt, two cups cottage cheese, or 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese.
Why should you put milk-based foods on your grocery list? Research suggests that dairy foods and the nutrients they provide can shield you against weak bones, high blood pressure and more. The DGA identify four nutrients of concern. Both children and adults consume too little calcium, vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber. Dairy products provide all but the fiber.
Milk and other dairy products provide calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium that work synergistically to help build and protect bones, says
Population studies suggest that consuming dairy foods lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure. In addition, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) clinical study, funded by the National Heart,
Can drinking milk help you lose weight? Some studies say yes and some say no. These conflicting results may occur because of varying study designs, suggests
"Dairy products seem to help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer," says
Unfortunately, "high consumption of dairy products may increase the risk of prostate cancer," Collins warns. Men shouldn't be afraid to consume moderate amounts, however. Two or perhaps three standard servings appear safe and probably lower their risk of colon cancer, she says. "Men who consume dairy products should be cautious about foods that are highly fortified with calcium" and avoid a total calcium intake beyond 1,200 mg/day.
Along with strength training, eating high quality protein may help build muscle and protect against age-related muscle loss. Dairy protein "contains more branched chain amino acids (BCAA) than many other types of protein," says
When you can't do dairy
Many people avoid dairy foods because they are lactose intolerant, allergic to milk or prefer not to consume animal products. If lactose intolerance gets in the way of enjoying dairy, "there is good news," says Dobbins. She explains that those with lactose intolerance can often tolerate yogurt with live active cultures and hard cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan and lactose-free milk. You may even be able to tolerate small amounts of milk, such as one-fourth to one-half cup with a meal. Additionally, you can take lactase enzymes when consuming dairy products to replace the enzymes your body lacks. If you consume no dairy products, you can meet your nutritional needs with fortified soy beverages, according to the DGA. Other milk substitutes fail to stack up nutritionally, warns Dobbins. For example, rice and almond milk each contain only 1 gram of protein per serving compared to milk's 8 grams.
Mixed Berry Smoothie
Makes 1 serving (1 1/2 cups).
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen mixed berries or frozen mixed berries with cherries
1 tablespoon sucralose or sweetener of choice
2 tablespoon nonfat milk
1. Blend all ingredients, using a blender or an immersion blender. Process until smooth. If you are not using frozen fruit, you will need to add several ice cubes to make the smoothie thick.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 203 calories, 1 gram (g) fat, 0 g saturated fat, 101 milligrams sodium, 30 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 22 g protein.
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