June is National Dairy Month — a great time to emphasize the health benefits of dairy products and to recognize dairy farmers.
“Dairy MAX, your local nonprofit dairy council, represents more than 950 dairy farm families to 31 million people across southwest Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas,” said Susan Allen, program manager of industry affairs for Dairy MAX. “Our partners and stakeholders include school and district leaders, health professionals, academia, industry, media and consumers. To foster a healthier society, we focus on collaboration and outreach that is rooted in timely, science-based nutrition information and research.”
The current dietary guidelines for Americans confirm the importance of dairy as a part of a healthy diet and recommend three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products for adults and for children and adolescents ages 9 to 18 years. The recommendations for children ages 4 to 8 years is 2½ cups of milk daily and 2 cups for children ages 2 to 3 years.
“Most people only get about half of the three dairy servings recommended daily by the dietary guidelines, and I think people would find that shocking,” Allen said, “Dairy is critical for strong bones, healthy bodies, and can help with lots of other issues like maintaining a healthy weight and healthy blood pressure. So one simple hint is to get one serving of dairy at every meal, and you are good to go. Think low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt for an easy and good way to ‘milk’ your diet.”
Milk and other dairy products provide essential nutrients for our health. Some of the nutrients in dairy and some of the functions of those nutrients include:
•Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth and plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting.
•Potassium regulates the body’s fluid balance, helps maintain normal blood pressure and is needed for muscle activity and contraction.
•Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps convert food into energy, which is a crucial process for exercising muscles.
•Vitamin D helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralization.