Milk and milk products are an important part of a healthy diet. Not only does the family of dairy foods provide many essential nutrients, but it also offers a great value, considering its low cost, convenience and nutritional content. In other words, dairy products provide a nutritional bang for your buck.
Additionally, dairy’s growing list of benefits-from bone health and better weight management to helping prevent certain cancers, hypertension and kidney stones- make dairy a must-have for every age group.
Dairy’s Health Attributes
Fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products are one of five food groups featured on USDA’s MyPyramid, which helps individuals follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Under the guidelines, it is recommended that individuals over nine years of age consume three cups of milk, cheese or yogurt a day, and children under the age of eight consume two cups a day.
Currently, milk and milk products are largely under-consumed by most Americans when compared to what is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. Dairy products are naturally rich in essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins, including:
• Protein: An important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
• Calcium: Builds strong bones, helps with muscle contraction and blood clotting.
• Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus in milk and other foods, and regulates normal blood pressure.
• Potassium: Maintains normal blood pressure and helps with muscle function.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, the National Medical Association and others agree that milk and milk products are important for overall health and wellness. Not only does research show milk and milk products provide a growing list of health benefits, but the wide range of products available also make dairy foods a valuable choice that can satisfy any taste.
California’s Dairy Industry
California is ranked No. 1 in U.S. production of fluid milk, butter, ice cream and fat-free dry milk.
California has been the nation's leading dairy state since 1993 and is second in overall cheese production.
California’s dairies produce 40.7 billion pounds of milk, accounting for 22% of the nation’s milk supply. As sustainability and animal welfare issues continue to have a growing impact on food choices, the dairy industry is committed to doing its share. According to a Cornell University study published in 2009, modern dairy practices require considerably fewer resources than in 1944.
Also, under Dairy Management Inc.’s Innovation Center, the dairy industry is a part of a major sustainability initiative to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the welfare of its animals, according to the Dairy Council of California. Through the Dairy Council, dairy producers and processors give back to California communities by educating nearly 10 million children and adults each year about the health benefits of dairy foods as part of an overall nutrient-rich dietary pattern.
Visitors can log on to www.dairycouncilofcalifornia.org to learn more about Dairy Council’s family of nutrition education programs for schools and healthcare settings, as well as its traveling assembly program, Mobile Dairy Classroom.
Users also can log on to www.mealsmatter.org to receive healthy eating tips from Dairy Council’s meal-planning Web site.