Milk and dairy foods are healthy foods and considered nutrient-rich because they serve as good sources of calcium, vitamin D as well as protein and other essential nutrients. They provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B12, and riboflavin.
Although milk, yogurt, and cheese offer significant amounts of calcium and other key nutrients, most people eat only half the recommended daily servings from this group. Getting the recommended three servings of dairy per day can help protect younger people from broken bones and older people from osteoporosis.
To meet daily calcium requirements, most people should have two to three cups of milk or servings of dairy foods each day. There are many ways to ensure you are eating healthy and getting enough milk and milk products each day. Start with a healthy breakfast of cereal, milk and fruit or a yogurt parfait, include cheese in your lunch or afternoon snack and consider pudding or hot chocolate as an evening dessert. Teens have the highest calcium requirements and should get about four cups daily. To learn more about the amounts of food to eat each day, take the Healthy Eating My Way quiz.
Some Key Benefits of Dairy Foods
The calcium found in milk is easily absorbed and used in the body, which is why milk and milk products are reliable as well as economical sources of calcium.
A diet rich in protein and vitamin D contributes to bone health. Due to their high protein, vitamin D, and calcium content, dairy foods are a good choice for maintaining strong bones.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, with reduced saturated fat, is as effective as some medications in reducing blood pressure in people with increased blood pressure.
Dairy calcium may play a role in maintaining a healthy weight. Studies on dairy and weight have concluded that three servings of dairy foods daily have the potential to impact weight loss and body composition.
Cultured dairy products like yogurt contain probiotics which provide a wide array of health benefits. Probiotics in the diet can enhance the good bacteria in the gut, improve health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.