You may already know this, but it’s important to include food from every food group in your diet to ensure that it is well-balanced. Many Americans stuff their diets with foods that are full of sugar like soda pop and candy, or high-fat foods that are available through the drive-in. As consumers turn to the most convenient and fastest option for meals, it’s important to remember the benefits of eating a balanced diet.
Dairy foods have been linked to improved bone health, decreased risks of osteoporosis, and lower occurrences of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To introduce more dairy products into your diet, think of choosing to make food with low fat cheese, milk, or even yogurt. Simply put, a diet with the right amount of dairy foods can provide valuable health benefits that can’t be replicated with a vitamin supplement.
Choosing the Right Dairy Foods
A big part of the problem with the diets of most Americans is that they simply don’t know WHAT to eat when they are filling a food group. Dairy products are available in many shapes and forms.
- Milk: fat-free, low fat, reduced fat, whole milk, flavored milk, and lactose-free milks
- Cheese: low fat cheese, hard natural cheese, soft cheeses, and processed cheeses
- Milk-based desserts: ice milk, ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding
- Yogurt: fat-free yogurt, low fat, reduced fat, and whole milk yogurt
These are just a few examples of the dairy foods that can be beneficial to any diet. Other dairy foods also provide valuable vitamins and minerals, although these foods are the most commonly eaten.
Why is Dairy so Great?
As with any other type of food group, dairy provides valuable resources for the body to become stronger and get rid of damaging toxins that can destroy organs, muscles, and cells.
- Calcium found in dairy foods is beneficial in maintaining bone mass and building teeth and bones.
- Dairy products high in potassium like yogurt, soymilk, and fluid milk help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Vitamin D found in milk helps to maintain the appropriate levels of phosphorous and calcium in the body, both of which help to build strong bones.
- Dairy products that are fat-free or low-fat have little to no solid fat.
In the diets of most Americans, dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese are the primary source of calcium the body receives. When the diet suffers, consumers go without valuable vitamins that may make a difference in how long they live.
Choose Dairy as a Snack
Oftentimes, changing a diet is simply a matter of consciously making the right choices. Increasing intake of dairy is a simple matter of changing snacks and meals to include more healthy dairy products.
- Dip fruits and veggies in dips made from yogurt.
- Cover fruit with low-fat yogurt for an afternoon snack.
- Put fat-free yogurt or low-fat Monterey Jack cheese on a baked potato for a healthy meal.
- Ask for skim milk in lattes or cappuccinos.
- Drink yogurt and fruit smoothies made in the blender on a daily basis.
Remember that dairy products should always be refrigerated and cared for as specified on the package. Always keep raw foods separate as they are being cooked, and avoid unpasteurized milk to keep you and your family safe.