Let’s face it, not all of us get the recommended amount of dairy we need each day. Sure, we may have a little milk in our coffee or a slice of cheese on our sandwich, but unless we get the recommended 3 cups a day for adults, we become at risk for being deficient in important nutrients like protein, potassium, Vitamin D, and calcium. Here are some tips that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) give to help you get more fat-free or low-fat dairy foods in your daily diet.
- Choose low-fat milk such as 1%, skim, or fat-free If you are currently drinking whole or 2%, gradually switch to a version with lower fat. Also, choose cheeses that are ‘reduced fat’ or ‘low-fat.’ Fat-free cheeses are healthy choices, but are not as good for cooking.
- Use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream to top a baked potato or fruit salad. Also try using low-fat milk on oatmeal and cereal.
- Regular cream cheese, butter, and cream are not dairy foods which means they do not contain important nutrients
- Sweet dairy foods such as yogurts, flavored milks, puddings, and frozen yogurts are often high in added sugar. Check food labels to make sure it is a healthy dairy choice.
- If you are lactose intolerant try a lactose-free milk such as almond or soy milk. Use the nutrition facts label to make sure they have about 300 mg of calcium. You can also get some calcium in leafy greens, but unrealistic to meet all your daily dairy needs.
- Milk and yogurt are better choices than cheeses because they contain more potassium and less sodium, and many milk and yogurt products are fortified with vitamin D.
- Model healthy choices for your children. Remember that your children are more likely to drink milk if they see you drinking milk. Try to include different dairy snacks into their lunch. Children 4 – 8 years old need 2 ½ cups daily, children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups, and older children and teenagers need 3 cups.
Whatever foods you choose to meet your dietary guidelines for the dairy food group just remember that “reduced fat,” “low-fat,” or “fat-free” options are always best. Try to do whatever you can to meet the 3 cup a day requirement. Remember to try different dairy foods to see what works for you. For more tips, please visit www.choosemyplate.gov for information about dairy and all the other food groups as well as information about your nutrition health.
Got Your Dairy Today? – http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet5GotYourDairyToday.pdf
Written by: Dana Brown, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,Morrow County, OSU Extension, Heart of Ohio EERA
Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Reviewed by: Barb Hildebrand, Office Associate, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, Heart of Ohio EERA