June is National Dairy Month
Pat is the Executive Director of Nutrition and Wellness for GolinHarris, located in the Chicago office. Pat has a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and a M.S. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a registered dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Originally created in the late 1930s to promote drinking milk in the midst of a dairy production surplus, National Milk Month has evolved over time to become National Dairy Month—a yearly tradition that celebrates the collective contributions of the dairy industry.
Nutritionally speaking, dairy foods—milk, cheese and yogurt—should be celebrated every day of the year, not just in the month of June. Here are a few of the many reasons to make 3 Every Day® of Dairy part of a balanced diet:
Dairy foods are rich in essential nutrients. Milk and milk products are recognized by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to contribute many key nutrients to the diet, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin A.1
Dairy foods are the top source of calcium in our diets. Over 60 percent of Americans fall short of meeting the recommended intake for calcium, which is recognized as a nutrient of concern by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to the benefits of an adequate calcium intake to support bone health, results of a newly published study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism show that women who consume a diet rich in calcium (dairy foods, non-dairy foods or supplements) may have a longer lifespan compared those who do not have a calcium-rich diet. The dairy food group is the top source of calcium in the American diet and cheese is the no. 2 source of dietary calcium for Americans.2 Most cheeses are a good or excellent source of calcium.
Dairy foods provide a source of high-quality protein. Emerging research continues to suggest that high-quality protein plays an important role in optimal health. In addition to providing critical vitamins and minerals that many Americans lack in their diets, cheese is a dairy food that offers a convenient, natural and tasty source of high-quality protein, making it easy to enjoy protein-rich meals and snacks.
Dairy foods offer a variety of great-tasting, nutritious choices that can fit into most any eating plan. With so much variety and so many choices, there are dairy foods to satisfy every palate, preference and eating occasion. Whether you’re looking for reduced-fat, low -fat, fat-free or reduced- sodium options, following a gluten-free diet or are lactose intolerant, you don’t need to dismiss dairy. Most natural cheeses are gluten free, and for those with lactose intolerance, natural cheeses contain minimal amounts of lactose because most is removed when the curds are separated from the whey in the cheese making process.
So make sure to enjoy cheese not only for its great taste but also as a nutrient-rich dairy food that can help you meet 3 Every Day® of Dairy as part of a balanced diet this month and throughout the year!
1. U. S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, December, 2012.www.dietaryguidelines.gov
2. Fulgoni III VL, Keast DR, Quann EE, Auestad N. Food sources of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and potassium in the U.S. Presented at Experimental Biology, Anaheim, Calif. April 24-29, 2010.