In the Midwest, we are fortunate to have an abundance of fresh, local dairy products. A cold glass of milk offers nutrients that support strong bones and help your body thrive. Fermented dairy, such as yogurt, cheese and kefir, offer probiotics that promote intestinal health, support the immune system and help prevent chronic diseases, like cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Three delicious servings of dairy each day help your children develop to their fullest potential and supports your health so you can feel your best.
Nutrients in Dairy
Dairy contains many nutrients that help you build and maintain strong bones and support your health. They include:
- Calcium – helps your body build strong bones and teeth, is involved in blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses, and regulation of your heartbeat. Dairy is an excellent source of easily absorbable calcium – one cup of milk offers around 300 mg.
- Potassium – helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, supports heart health and plays a key role in muscle contraction.
- Vitamin D – helps maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus and plays a critical role in maintaining bone health. Low vitamin D levels are linked to high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, dementia, depression and diabetes. Living in the northern part of the United States, it is impossible to get adequate vitamin D from the sun during the wintertime. Fortified milk is a good dietary source of vitamin D.
- Magnesium – helps build bone density, maintain cardiovascular heath, and lower both blood pressure and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Phosphorus – helps build strong bones and teeth, repair tissue, and is involved in storing and using energy.
- Vitamin A – is important for vision, supports the immune system and helps direct the process of borrowing and redepositing calcium in bone.
- Protein – one serving of dairy provides around 8 grams of protein; Greek yogurt offers more – around 13 grams per 5 ounce container.
Consuming dairy is associated with numerous potential health benefits, including:
- Improved bone health and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
- lower blood pressure
- reduced risk of weight gain and obesity
- decreased risk of metabolic syndrome
Added Benefits of Fermented Dairy
Fermented dairy, including yogurt, kefir – a tart, fermented milk drink made with kefir “grains” (bacterial culture and yeast) – and cheese, is generally better tolerated by individuals who are lactose intolerant and contains healthy bacteria known as probiotics. These probiotics support normal functioning of the gut and help restore balance to gut flora after diarrhea or antibiotic use. Probiotics improve immune function and resistance to disease, and may help reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Recent research also shows an association between consumption of fermented dairy products and a lower risk of diabetes.
Make Your Own
Store bought yogurts that are low in added sugars are a convenient way to enjoy the benefits of dairy. For those inclined to do-it-yourself, making your own yogurt is surprisingly easy, incredibly delicious and allows you to tailor the sugar and protein content to your taste. See our recipe for Homemade Yogurt to make your own yogurt.
Get Your Three a Day
The USDA recommends three servings of dairy for children and adults over 9 years old. One cup of milk or yogurt, or one and a half ounces of cheese counts as one serving. Dairy foods like cream cheese, cream and butter contain little calcium and do not count towards your three servings. Enjoy milk, yogurt, cheese and kefir to support your wellness and help your family reach their fullest potential.
You will love the way you feel!