By: Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD
This month is celebrated as June Dairy Month across the United States and here in the Southeast, we take the time to honor our dairy farmers, who work tirelessly to provide nutritious milk, yogurt & cheese.
As a Registered Dietitian, I particularly love this month because it is a chance to focus on nutritious dairy foods that fill a gap in the diet of most Americans. In fact, did you know that most Americans are missing 4 important nutrients in their diets? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber are nutrients of public health concern because their absence in the diet increases the risk for developing diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and even some forms of cancer.
The good news is that dairy foods, such as milk, provide 9 essential nutrients, including 3 of the 4 nutrients of concern—calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Milk is one of the best nutrient values in the supermarket. For only about 25 cents per glass, milk provides 8 grams of high-quality protein, along with 8 other essential nutrients that help your body thrive.
Try some of my favorite tips to include 3 servings of dairy foods in your diet each day:
– Make your oatmeal with milk for a creamy, nutritious start to the day
– Use plain Greek yogurt as a protein-packed base for dips instead of mayonnaise
– Make playful salad “kabobs” alternating fresh vegetables with cubes of your favorite cheese
– Make soups and puddings using milk instead of water
– Add warm milk to your morning coffee for a homemade latte
– Have a make-your-own yogurt parfait bar for kid’s birthday parties
– Keep cheese sticks in your fridge for a healthy and delicious snack
– Freeze yogurt tubes for a creamy summer treat
Lactose intolerant? Not to worry! If you are sensitive to lactose, you can still enjoy dairy foods in your diet. Try lactose-free milk, which has the same 9 essential nutrients as regular milk, just without the lactose. Or reach for yogurt with live, active cultures, which help to break down the lactose. You can also enjoy hard, natural cheeses, such as Cheddar and Swiss, which have little or no lactose.