Thank a cow this month, enjoy dairy all year

Thank a cow this month, enjoy dairy all year

It is that time of year to thank a cow. National Dairy Month is in full swing. Milk, yogurt and cheese are celebrated during June.

Nutrient-rich dairy foods are one of the most affordable sources of healthy nutrition. Dairy products provide a variety of nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins A, D and B12.

The essential proteins found in dairy are more effectively absorbed by the body compared to soy, almond, wheat or rice proteins. Milk substitutes and their added calcium cannot equal the absorbability of calcium from animal milk.

Milk, yogurt and cheese are not just for the young, although the prime time to stockpile the body with a lifetime supply of calcium is during the teenage years.

It takes 3 cups of broccoli to equal the same amount of calcium in an 8-ounce glass of milk. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt has as much potassium as a banana.

An 8-ounce glass of skim milk has only 80 calories and nearly zero grams of fat. That’s less calories than soda pop, cola or a juice drink. Low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese are as nutritious as dairy foods made from whole milk. Protein and carbohydrates are the same, no matter the color of the cap on the gallon of milk.

A daily dose of dairy is recommended. Research continues to verify dairy foods affect blood pressure and overall heart health in people after their childhood. Children and adults need three servings each day because of its unique combination of proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, and eight other vitamins and minerals. A serving of milk is 8 ounces, 1 cup.

Eating yogurt every day is associated with a lower risk of severe periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss in people who do not smoke. More studies have linked dairy products with asthma. Girls who did not regularly drink milk and were overweight have more than a three times greater risk of having breathing problems.

It’s the calcium and protein in milk that decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Researchers note that in addition to calcium, milk provides potassium and phosphorus, further enhancing the bone-strengthening effect of dietary protein.

For men who smoke tobacco, promising new research shows dairy foods may provide protection against prostate cancer, the most common type of nonskin cancer affecting men. These new studies suggest a higher intake of dairy foods may help protect current smokers from aggressive prostate cancer.

Drinking low-fat milk after exercise may promote rehydration better than water or sports drinks. Milk is more effective at replacing exercise-induced fluid losses and maintaining hydration in the post-exercise period.

Studies with elderly eaters reveal several components of cheese including the amino acid, tyramine, may be responsible for its association with improved cognitive function. Choosing only 1 ounce of cheese as a daily snack can improve your brain function and help you think better. Thus, celebrate June by increasing your dairy intake.

Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian. Email her at

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