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June is National Dairy Month. Before June slides into oblivion, take a moment to reflect on milk as one aspect of a healthful diet. Milk and its products are powerhouses of nutrients. They provide nine essential nutrients; calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, and B12, riboflavin, and niacin. These nutrients play vital roles in body functions and bone development, especially in children and teens. For adults, this food group may help reduce risks for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and help lower blood pressure. Milk and milk products may also help rid the body of unwanted weight.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk equivalent daily. Serving size equals one cup of milk or yogurt and one and one-half ounces of cheese. A 2,000 calorie diet is the standard for recommendations. Men and very active women may need to increase their number of servings.

Milk is a mainstay as a beverage whether with meals or as part of a healthy snack. Use milk instead of water to prepare cooked cereals or soup. Enjoy other forms such as yogurt and numerous types of cheeses. Shredded cheese on casseroles or vegetables or in soups, stews, and other dishes creates tempting fares and provides extra nutrients. Yogurt makes a great dip for fruits and vegetables. Use flavored yogurt for delicious smoothies. Because of their low lactose content, cheese and yogurt can replace milk to meet nutrient needs of those who are lactose intolerant.

Don’t overlook milk or its products in your diet. Enjoy its refreshing taste with assurance that you made healthy choices for your eating plan.

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