Posted on: June 20, 2014
National Dairy Month
By Stephanie Perruzza MS, RD, CDN
June marks the beginning of summer (it’s about time); but it’s also National Dairy Month! The dairy group is an essential building block for a healthy diet and especially important for bone health. Do yourself a big favor and start the summer right by raising a big cold glass of…milk!
Dairy is represented on the USDA’s MyPlate as a way to get your ‘calcium-rich foods’, as dairy is the primary source of calcium in American diets. One cup of milk contains 30% of your recommended daily intake! Dairy is also a good source of potassium, aiding in blood pressure and vitamin D, which is also essential for building strong bones. Dairy foods are also a great source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
How Much is Needed?
The recommended daily amount of dairy for individuals aged 19 and older is 3 cups; which is equivalent to 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt and 1½ ounces of hard cheese. Certain dairy foods can contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, so it’s important to choose fat-free or low-fat choices.
Don’t Do Dairy?
If you have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy there are many other non-dairy alternatives to choose from. Most lactose intolerant people can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose in one sitting; that’s about 1 cup. But here are some non-dairy choices:
One of the most popular non-dairy alternatives, soymilk is made from soaking dry soybeans and blending with water. Soymilk is a complete vegetable protein source containing all nine essential amino acids; it’s also a great source of vitamin B6 and magnesium. Soy also contains the antioxidant isoflavones, which help reduce cholesterol and protect against many chronic diseases.
Almond milk is made by soaking almonds in water then draining and blending to create a milky liquid texture. One cup of almond milk is very low in protein with only 1 gram per cup but is rich in calcium with 45% of your recommended daily intake. Almond milk also contains certain B vitamins like riboflavin and Vitamin B12. Choose unsweetened varieties for lower sugar and calorie content.
Hemp milk is made from blending hemp seeds with water. Hemp is considered a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids aiding in inflammation and heart health. Hemp milk is also rich in iron with 20% of your recommended daily intake.