June 26, 2008

Dishing out the Dairy

By Karen Saley, Pinellas County Extension, Families & Consumers, Educational Instructor

June not only marks the beginning of summer it is also Dairy Month.

How you may ask did June ever become Dairy Month and why?

“June Dairy Month, an annual tradition developed to celebrate the dairy industry and its many contributions to our society, originated in 1937. During its first two years, 1937 and 1938, it was called National Milk Month and ran from June 10 to July 10. The 1937 event, sponsored by chain stores, was given the theme "Keep Youthful - Drink Milk." Originally supported by the National Dairy Council (NDC), June Dairy Month was established to help stabilize dairy demand during periods of peak production.”

Although most people don’t realize that June is Dairy Month they have come to understand just how important dairy products are in maintaining health. Much research has been done over the years proving that getting adequate amounts of dairy plays a critical role in helping to prevent some very specific health conditions. Two major studies, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) show that dairy foods are important components of diets associated with improved health outcomes.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain nine essential nutrients which may help prevent osteoporosis, reduce your risk for high blood pressure, help you better manage your weight, and aid in preventing certain cancers.

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat, affecting more than 28 million Americans. One reason why osteoporosis rates are so high is that many people (especially teens, women and the elderly) have critically low calcium intakes. Although dairy products contribute 73% of calcium in the food supply, most people aren't getting enough in their diet.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 50 million Americans and is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. The multi-center DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study, found that a low fat diet providing 3 servings of low fat dairy products and 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, significantly lowers blood pressure as much as some medications, especially when combined with a low sodium intake.
According to several studies published in the last year, low fat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, may help control body fat.

  • Women who consumed the most calcium and ate at least 3 servings of dairy foods per day were 80% less likely to be obese than those with the lowest intake.

  • Young women (18-31 years) enrolled in an exercise study who had high calcium intakes gained less weight and body fat than those with lower calcium intakes.

  • High calcium intake was consistently associated with lower body weight across 4 studies conducted in young, middle-aged and elderly women.

  • Researchers analyzed the diets of preschool children over a 3-year period and found children with higher dairy/calcium intake, had lower body fat than those children with lower dairy/calcium intakes.

The results of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine show calcium may help reduce the risk of colon tumors.

Dairy’s importance in building strong bones and maintaining healthy weight has been reaffirmed in the Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, and the new MyPyramid. All recommend eating three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt for optimum health.

Milk is loaded with the following nutrients and just three servings of milk each day will provide you with from 30% to 90% of these essential vitamins and minerals.

For those of you that feel you may be lactose intolerant take heart. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for young adults who complain of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, intolerance to cow’s milk is rarely the cause. If, however, you suffer some distressing symptoms after consuming dairy products here are some suggestions to help you keep dairy in your diet.
  • Drink milk with meals and snacks instead of on an empty stomach.
  • Use aged cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss that are naturally low in lactose.
  • Add small amounts of dairy to your diet until you reach three servings a day.
  • Try lactose-free products
  • Try some yogurt which contains bacteria that help digest lactose.

Dairy products are not only good for you, but are delicious as well. Try a refreshing yogurt and fruit smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or snack and to beat that summer heat pour the smoothie into small paper cups, insert a popsicle stick, and freeze.

And now just for fun,

1. About how many squirts are there in a gallon of milk?
a. 100
b. 200
c. 350
d. 950

2. It takes about how many pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese?
a. 1
b. 5
c. 10
d. 15

3. What is the major nutrient found in milk, cheese and yogurt?

1. c. 350
2. c. 10
3. Calcium


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