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Health Benefits of Dairy


Science shows that consuming 3-4 servings of milk, cheese and/or yogurt every day enables people to meet their daily calcium recommendations and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension and obesity.


Dairy's role in bone health has long been established. More recent research indicates that dairy foods also play a role in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of obesity.


Bone Health - Several studies have shown that calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus, all found in diary foods, are an important nutrient combination in promoting bone health.


Hypertension - According to the American Heart Association, one in four U.S. adults suffers from high blood pressure. Adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which is low in fat and includes 2-3 servings of dairy and 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables, is clinically proven to prevent and treat high blood pressure.


Weight Management - A research review concluded that dietary calcium may play an important role in the regulation of energy metabolism and may result in a reduction of body fat and an acceleration of weight and fat loss. This review also concluded that dairy foods demonstrate substantially greater weight loss effects than supplemental calcium or calcium fortified foods.


Experts agree that the best way to get the needed nutrients each day is through naturally dense foods, not vitamins, pills or fortified foods. Dairy foods are the best source of naturally occurring calcium and provides eight other nutrients including protein, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins D, A and B12, riboflavin and niacin.




Find It In Food First

Foods that naturally contain calcium, particularly milk, yogurt, and cheese, are the preferred source because these foods provide calcium and eight other essential nutrients.


Foods naturally containing calcium may provide unidentified or unrecognized health-promoting components for which recommendations have not yet been made. Milk contains other nutrients that help your body better absorb calcium.


Milk and other dairy products are already a natural part of most American's diets. Foods other than dairy products, such as salmon and broccoli, contain less calcium per serving. You need to eat more servings of these foods to obtain the same amount of absorbed calcium from one glass of milk.


New research finds that most people who are lactose intolerant can still enjoy some dairy foods daily. Lactose intolerance is not an "all-or-nothing" condition; it's a matter of degree.


The Calcium-Fortified Food Option

Stop thinking of your diet in terms of single nutrients. The use of calcium-fortified foods does not correct poor dietary patterns of food selection and does not ensure a nutritionally adequate diet.


A diet low in calcium is generally low in other nutrients and is the result of poor food selection, not the unavailability of calcium-rich foods.

Calcium-fortified foods are a supplement to, not a substitute for, foods naturally containing calcium.


The FDA cautions against random food fortification because of the potential for over- or under-fortification and nutrient imbalances in consumer diets. The multitude of calcium-fortified foods available makes it easy to exceed the safety limit of 2500mg calcium/day set up by the National Academy of Science.


Supplement Savvy

Many of the same concerns with the use of calcium-fortified foods are also true for with the use of calcium supplements.


The long-term effects of calcium supplements, especially antacids, on the absorption of nutrients, including calcium, are unknown.


Over consumption of calcium, either from supplements or calcium-fortified foods may adversely affect the utilization of other nutrients such as zinc, iron, and magnesium.



You don't absorb large doses of calcium as efficiently as you do small ones. Thus, much of a 1,000mg tablet is going to waste. Calcium supplements taken in combination with other supplements or medications may lead to constipation.



If you're between 4 and 8 you need 800mg of calcium a day! You ask, "What does that mean?" It means you need at least three or more servings of milk, yogurt and cheese every day! You'll look good, feel good and best of all, when you get plenty of exercise, you'll build the strongest healthiest bones possible! Give these tasty ideas a try:


The skimmed shake - make an "old fashioned" milkshake with low fat milk and your favorite flavor of low fat ice cream.


Fondue, friends & fun - have friends over for a cheese fondue party. Dip and dunk favorite veggies, mini-pita bread, cooked and cubed chicken breast and fruit into the cheesy fondue.


Chocolate craze - have a glass of ice cold, low  fat chocolate milk to cool down, satisfy your chocolate craving and get on your way to meeting your daily calcium needs.


Tropical temptation - make a smoothie with lowfat milk and frozen pineapple chunks (use ice cubes if needed) and blenderize.


Yogurt, fruit and whole-grain to go - mix your fruit of choice, whole grain cereal and low fat yogurt in a plastic cup and eat on the go!


Groovy smoothie - blenderize low fat milk, frozen fruit and a little yogurt for breakfast to fit any busy schedule!



String cheese please - string cheese is a fun, quick and nutritious "out-the-door" snack. Combine with fresh or dried fruit or wrap in a tortilla.


Kickin' kabobs - kick it up a notch with fruit kabobs. Dip in low fat yogurt!


Pizza pick me up - for a quick nutrient boost have a slice of veggie pizza. Make a pizza on pita or English muffin with pizza sauce, low fat cheese and your favorite veggie toppings.


Munch, munch, munch - put together mini-snacks for fast fuel. Try baby carrots, whole-grain crackers, string cheese, fruit and low fat milk in a plastic "to go" container.



What is Flavored Milk?

Flavored milk is simply plain cow's milk that has added to it a little flavoring and sweetener. It's available in chocolate, strawberry, banana and root beer flavors from whole to fat free varieties.


How Nutritious is Flavored Milk?

Like all milk, flavored milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, and niacin. Milk's nutrients, especially calcium, are necessary for developing strong bones and teeth. Each 8-ounce serving provides 300mg of calcium, about one-third to one-fourth of the daily calcium requirement for children.


Do The Sweeteners in Milk Cause Hyperactivity?

No. Flavored milks contain less table sugar per 8-ounce serving than cola drinks. According to scientific research, sugar does not cause hyperactivity or mood swings in children.



Do The Sweeteners in Milk Cause Tooth Decay?

No. Because flavored milk is a beverage, it is less likely to cause cavities than sticky foods. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry agrees that chocolate milk is a healthy beverage, and in fact, the calcium, phosphorus and cocoa in chocolate milk actually may protect teeth from decay.


Does Chocolate in Milk Affect Calcium Absorption?

No. Chocolate milk contains a small amount of oxalic acid, a compound found in cocoa beans and other plants. The very small amount of this compound in chocolate milk has no significant affect upon the availability of milk's calcium.


How Much Caffeine is in Chocolate Milk?

Each cup of chocolate milk has about 2 to 7 mg of caffeine, the same amount that's found in one cup of decaffeinated coffee. This tiny amount of caffeine in chocolate milk is too small to affect most children. Colas, on the other hand, may contain up to ten times more caffeine than chocolate milk.


Do Children and Young Adults Choose Flavored Milk?

Yes. Flavored milk is a favorite with kids because it tastes great and is "kid cool." When offered at school, chocolate milk is the most popular choice of milk. A study showed that milk consumption increased at school when chocolate milk was offered.


Can You Drink Chocolate Milk if you are Lactose Intolerant?

Chocolate milk may be more easily digested then unflavored milk in people with lactose intolerance. In fact, most individuals with a limited ability to break down lactose can drink two cups of any type of milk a day when consumed in small servings or with other foods.


How does Flavored Milk Fit Into the CACFP?

Perfectly. USDA meals are designed to provide all of the nutrients children need each day. Milk, flavored or plain, is a required part of the menu at breakfast, lunch, and supper. Because of its kid appeal, offering flavored milk means kids get more calcium, riboflavin and phosphorus with USDA meals.


To receive a certificate of training hours you must complete a quiz based on the material above. You are required to get all questions correct. If you do not get 100% on the quiz the first time, you may take it over again. The results of the quiz will be emailed to Mid Michigan Child Care Food Program. When we receive the results of your quiz, a certificate of training completed will pop up that you can print. A copy of the certificate will also be emailed to you. 


Health Benefits of Dairy Quiz


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