Dairy Council of California, a quasi-state government nutrition education organization committed to elevating the health and wellness of children and families, announced the official launch of “The Healthy Eating Table.” The annual scientific review series was developed to distill the latest research in nutrition and dairy science and increase the knowledge of health professionals, bringing them “to the table” to make educating about healthy eating patterns easier. The inaugural issue focuses on the important role of dairy foods in plant-based sustainable eating patterns, the Sacramento, Calif.-based organization said.

“We developed The Healthy Eating Table to empower health professionals and educators, arming them with the latest research to ensure the most vulnerable populations — children and families in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities — receive the best nutritional guidance science can point to,” said Ashley Rosales, director of nutrition science at Dairy Council of California and co-author of the review series. “By embracing the latest research and ensuring nutrition guidance is evidence-based, health professionals can feel empowered to advocate for the health of the people who live in their communities.”

The global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, according to the 2017 UN DESA World Population Prospects report, and as experts around the world look for ways to sustainably maximize existing resources while preserving global health, the individual health of the most vulnerable populations may be at risk. Compiling and reviewing the latest nutrition and dairy research, evidence suggests that dairy plays an important role in healthy eating patterns and is part of the solution to meeting the needs of the growing population while keeping the planet healthy, Dairy Council of California said.

“Health professionals, educators and community leaders all play a role in fostering optimal health and greater access to nutritious foods in communities,” said Kristal Shelden, project manager of nutrition sciences at Dairy Council of California and lead writer for the review series. “Staying abreast of the latest science and research is necessary to ensure that nutrition guidance is evidence based and focused on the health and well-being of people.”

Key findings highlighted in the inaugural issue, Dairy Council of California said, include:

  • A growing body of evidence links the consumption of milk and dairy foods to a wide range of health benefits, from well-studied associations such as controlling blood pressure and improving bone health to newer associations such as reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Sustainable nutrition is a topic with international importance as countries around the world are faced with addressing the triple burden of malnutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies while protecting finite natural resources. Sustaining the environment is critical; equally important is addressing the inequities of food affordability, access and availability in food system models.
  • Whole foods — and combinations of whole foods eaten together — are greater than the sum of their parts, emphasizing the importance of an overall healthy eating pattern.
  • Encouraging consumption of nutrient-dense foods, from both plant-based and dairy sources, can help close the nutrient gaps that exist for Americans of all ages.

Rosales and Shelden are registered dietitian nutritionists; Shelden also holds a master’s degree in public health from University of California, Davis. The two are key members of Dairy Council of California’s nutrition sciences team and work to improve community health by driving programs that focus on nutrition education and provide access to nutritious foods. Dairy Council of California said its nutrition sciences team consists of experts who collect, analyze and communicate the most current research and data on nutrition education and healthy eating patterns with the belief that understanding current research is vital to improving the eating patterns of children and families.

The Healthy Eating Table, in its entirety, is available at HealthyEating.org/table.