Dairy Makes the Grade for Healthy Eating

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Vanilla Mochaccino

Sharpen your pencil and put on your thinking cap! It's time to head back to the classroom and take a just-for-fun dairy quiz. See how much you know about dairy foods and their role in a healthy diet.

Question: Why do health experts recommend eating more dairy foods for calcium?

Answer: Milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-rich foods, and it's difficult to meet daily calcium recommendations without consuming them. Few nondairy foods contain as much naturally occurring calcium and essential nutrients as dairy. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium and contains eight additional nutrients including potassium, phosphorous, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin. These nutrients help keep bones strong and bodies fit. While calcium-fortified beverages provide an alternative source of calcium, they do not have the same nutrient package as milk, cheese and yogurt. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, evidence indicates that intake of milk and milk products is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, along with lower blood pressure in adults.

Question: Why is breakfast known as "the most important meal of the day?"

Answer: Breakfast is the first nutrition opportunity of the day -- a chance to boost our intake of foods that may be lacking in our diets, like dairy, fruits, and whole grains. These foods pack a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. And, research shows that breakfast-skippers may not make up these nutrients later in the day. Also, on average, breakfast eaters have smaller waist lines then those who do not eat breakfast.

Try these simple recipes to help jump-start your day in a healthy way.

Vanilla Mochaccino

Makes 2 servings
Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 5 min


*2 coffee cups of strong French roast coffee
*2 cups of fat free milk
*1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
*1 tbsp sugar
*1 tsp vanilla extract

Brew 2 cups of French roast or espresso-style coffee and pour into a small saucepan with fat free milk, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla extract; simmer for 5 minutes. Blend with a hand-held electric mixer to create a frothy top and carefully pour into coffee mugs.

Note: This beverage can also be served over ice after cooling for 5 minutes.

Nutritional Facts per serving

Calories: 130, Total Fat: 2 g, Calcium: 30% Daily Value, Protein 9 g

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Shake

Makes 1 Serving
Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 5 min


*1 cup fat free or lowfat milk
*1/2 cup frozen banana slices
*1 tbsp. peanut butter
*1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*sweet cocoa powder (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, if desired

Nutrition Facts: (Based on using fat free milk)

Calories: 270, Total Fat: 9 g, Calcium: 35% Daily Value, Protein: 15 g

Question: Is chocolate milk as nutritious as unflavored milk?

Answer: Absolutely! On average, chocolate milk only has about 60 more calories per serving than unflavored milk; a difference that easily fits into an active person's diet. All flavored milks are packed with nutrients, including bone-building calcium. An 8-ounce serving of milk provides about 300 mg of calcium, providing about one-fourth to one-third of daily calcium requirements. In addition, flavored milks are available in low fat, reduced fat, and fat free varieties. Drinking flavored milk can be a great way to ensure getting the recommended three servings of dairy everyday.

Question: How can a person with lactose intolerance meet his/her calcium needs?

Answer: It's important to remember that lactose intolerance doesn't mean dairy intolerance. Individuals with lactose intolerance may experience uncomfortable symptoms when the natural sugar -- lactose -- in dairy foods is digested. But research shows that most people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy dairy daily. Follow these tips:

*Pair the dairy: Drink milk (8 ounces or less) with meals, rather than on an empty stomach. Solid foods slow digestion, which may help prevent digestive difficulties.

*Get a little culture: Yogurt with live active cultures contain "friendly" bacteria that help the body easily digest lactose.

*Say cheese: When milk is made into cheese, most of the lactose is removed. Aged hard cheeses, such as Cheddar, Colby, Swiss and Parmesan, are especially low in lactose, but still contain a great source of calcium and potassium.

The nutrition professionals at St. Louis District Dairy Council challenge you to get the recommended three servings of dairy every day to help build strong bones and healthy bodies.

For more information on dairy and smart food choices, visit Dairy Council's website, www.stldairycouncil.org or contact Kelly Maher with St. Louis District Dairy Council at (314)-835-9668 or e-mail at kmaher@stldairycouncil.org.

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