Northern Westchester Hospital Dietitian Dishes Dairy

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!

Milk_HiRezDairy Benefits
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:

#1 Soy
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.

#2 Almond
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.

#3 Hemp
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.