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3 Things to Know About Dairy in the New Dietary Guidelines

January 07, 2016

We all remember learning about nutrition growing up whether it was a pyramid or a plate that guided us. Today, with everything in the news and on social media fighting for our attention it can be hard to know what recommendations to follow. The government has released its new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which it updates every five years to help paint a picture for a healthy diet. Here are three things to know about dairy’s role in these new guidelines:

1. Dairy foods (e.g., low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt) retain their important role in the DGA with even more reasons to consume three servings* every day.

While people usually think about eating foods, not nutrients, the nutrients in our food choices matter to our health, and dairy foods help Americans meet nutrient recommendations for calcium, vitamin D and potassium – nutrients we’re not getting enough of.

And not only do dairy foods taste great, they are accessible, contain essential nutrients and come in a variety of options from lactose-free to low-fat or lower sodium — at a reasonable cost.

2. Have kids? You can feel confident about helping children and adolescents eat the recommended amounts of dairy foods each day.

Dairy foods are recommended to help meet calcium and vitamin D recommendations, and are linked with improved bone health in children and adolescents. In fact, milk is the No. 1 food source of nine essential nutrients in the diets of America’s children including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, three of the four nutrients the DGA notes children don’t get enough of. Eating patterns established in childhood often continue as they age. Parents can be a role model here too, eating a complete breakfast and drinking milk to help give their kids a head start to a lifetime of wellness.

From school lunch to the kitchen table, there are tips to help kids enjoy the nutrient-rich benefits of dairy foods.

3. Build and enjoy a “healthy eating pattern” that includes dairy foods.

The new Guidelines propose three different healthy eating patterns: Healthy U.S-Style, Healthy Vegetarian and Healthy Mediterranean-Style and dairy foods are part of all three. The DGA notes strong evidence shows that healthy eating patterns are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moderate evidence indicates that healthy eating patterns also are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer… overweight, and obesity.” While there may be several ways to build a healthy diet, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt play an essential role due to their unique set of nutrients and contributions to health benefits, not to mention taste, satisfaction and enjoyment.

Regardless of your path to a healthy diet, three daily servings of dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt can play an important role in dietary patterns and your well-being, from childhood through adulthood.

To learn more about how to build your plate or fill your glass with dairy, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov/dairy and for delicious dairy recipes check out our recipes.

*The Dietary Guidelines recommend three servings of dairy/day for those 9 years and older

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