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Did you know that National Dairy Month originally started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk? It was initially established to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus but has now developed into an annual celebration to recognize the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world. After the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the cause, the name was changed to “Dairy Month.”
Dairy Month is a great way to start off the summer with nutrient-rich dairy foods. From calcium to potassium, dairy products like milk contain nine essential nutrients which may help to better manage your weight, reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Whether it’s protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse. Those are just a few reasons why you should celebrate dairy not just in June, but all year long.
When choosing dairy products it is important to choose low fat and fat free dairy products. Choosing foods from the dairy group that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol can lead to health implications. High cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Opting for low fat and fat free dairy products can help to improve bone health, especially in children and adolescents, maintain a healthy body weight, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and help to lower blood pressure in adults.
So, what does a serving of dairy look like? One dairy serving is equivalent to: 1 cup milk, 2 cups cottage cheese, 2 ounces processed cheese, 1 ½ ounces hard cheese or 8 fluid ounces yogurt. Three servings of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are recommended for those 9 years and older as a part of an overall balanced, healthy eating style, and there are options in the dairy case for almost everyone — including those with lactose intolerance.
Dairy products can be incorporated into daily cooking to add nutrients and meet the recommended number of servings per day. Low fat or fat free milk can be used to make pudding for a snack, or added to cream soups, allowing for the same flavor and consistency while lowering the calories and fat content. Yogurt can be used in making sauces, smoothies and dips. It can also be used in place of sour cream on top of a baked potato. Including adequate amounts of low fat and fat free dairy products into your diet not only tastes good, but is good for you, too!