Dairy often gets lumped into fad diets that encourage elimination in the name of “health,” which likely makes it easier for someone with lactose intolerance to rationalize the idea that cutting out dairy completely is the healthiest option. But if that were the case, dairy foods would not be a key part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you’ve cut dairy because you have lactose intolerance or a fad diet told you so, here are the three reasons you should fall in love with dairy again.
1. 90% of Americans are not meeting current recommended servings of dairy foods (3 servings per day for those ages 9 and up) and at the same time many Americans are under consuming potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. Can you guess what foods provide those nutrients? That’s right, dairy! If you have lactose intolerance opt for lactose-free milk, natural cheese, and fermented dairy foods that will be better tolerated.
2. Campaigns that encourage replacing dairy with other foods often fail to consider that milk provides 13 essential nutrients in just 1 cup and is also affordable and easy for people of all ages to consume. It is possible to find the nutrients that dairy provides in other foods, but not always easy! You would have to eat over 5 cups of raw kale to get the same amount of calcium that you get in just 1 cup of milk.
3. Plant-based diets are gaining in popularity and dairy foods are a perfect pair. We know that plant-based diets provide important nutrients for health when they include plenty of fruits, vegetables, pulses, and whole grains. But with plants alone in a diet, the risk for nutrient gaps is higher. Including dairy foods in a plant-based diet is a great way to ensure you are providing your body with all the nutrients it needs.
Don’t let lactose intolerance or fad diets steer you away from the dairy aisle. If you have lactose intolerance, avoid missing out on the benefits of dairy foods by modifying your dairy choices.