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Nutrition 101: National Dairy Month

June 4, 2018

By Jacque Janning, Dietetic Intern

You can start your summer off right in unison with National Dairy Month! Dairy is such a versatile food group, yet many individuals aren’t meeting the daily recommendations. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that people from age nine and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day. Optional choices include milk, cheese and yogurt. Don’t forget to stick to healthy portions; one serving incudes 1 string cheese or cheese slice, cheddar cut into 4 “dice”, and 1 cup of milk or yogurt.

Dairy products contain all 9 essential nutrients, which your body is incapable of making independently and must be provided by your diet.

  • Calcium helps our bodies build and maintain strong bones and healthy teeth, while Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium.
  • Riboflavin effectively breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy our bodies can utilize for promoting healthy eyes, skin, and nails.
  • Phosphorous is essential for strong bones along with providing other nutrients for energy the body requires.
  • Protein builds, repairs, and maintains healthy muscles and tissues, while also managing your weight by satiating your appetite.
  • Potassium maintains blood pressure and aids with muscle contraction.
  • Vitamin A is essential to bone growth, healthy eyes, skin, and nails.
  • Vitamin B12 keeps red blood cells and nerve cells at maximum health levels.
  • Niacin aids the bodies digestion of fat and sugar while generating energy, supporting nervous system function, maintenance of healthy skin, and reduces fatigue.

    If you need yet another reason to rethink dairy, evidence shows high-quality proteins, such as those found in milk, promote weight maintenance and satiety, muscle growth and blood sugar control.

    Dairy products are not only natural, they are affordable and make healthy eating easy! To boost your daily dairy intake, grab a string cheese with an apple for snack, enjoy a glass of milk after your workout, and sprinkle cheese onto some veggies at supper. If you’re looking to change things up, there are many trending foods in your grocery store’s dairy department including Kefir (fermented milk and like drinkable yogurt) and Skyr (Icelandic yogurt that is thicker in consistency), and don’t forget about the endless options of yogurt flavors! You can also start your day off right with my favorite summer time breakfast that is easy, filling, and nutritious!

    Bircher Muesli

    Serves: 4-6


    2 cups rolled or quick oats

    1¾ cups skim milk

    ¼ cup apple juice

    3 tablespoons lemon juice

    1 apple, cored and grated with the peel

    1-2 tablespoons honey

    1½ cups plain yogurt

    A dash of cinnamon

    Toppings: your favorite fresh and/or dried fruit, nuts, toasted coconut, etc.


    Combine oats, milk, apple juice and lemon juice and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

    In the morning add the grated apple, honey (to taste), yogurt, and cinnamon, and mix well. Top with your favorite fruits and nuts.

    To find out more information on how to incorporate more dairy into your diet, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or MT_dietitians@unitypoint.org

    Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Outpatient Nutrition Services.

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