Dairy’s Nutrition, Taste and Versatility Enhances Most Eating Styles

If you are a health and wellness professional, do people ask you which eating plan is best for weight loss, heart health or health in general?

Now evaluating the healthfulness of several styles of eating has been made easier because the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) has dedicated an entire chapter to eating patterns and their documented positive health outcomes.

No matter which of these healthy eating patterns one chooses -- Healthy U.S.-Style, Healthy Vegetarian, or Healthy Mediterranean-Style -- the goal is to promote a lifetime of health and help reduce risk of chronic disease. Dairy foods like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese are considered a fundamental part of these healthy eating styles. Healthy eating patterns that include fat free or low fat dairy foods have been linked to health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes in adults and improved bone health in children and adolescents.  

What is the real difference in these eating styles? Let’s look at this chart: 

Families who want to enjoy a Mediterranean way of eating can adapt the number of dairy servings to meet the calcium and vitamin D needs of their children and teens.

The latest dietary guidance from MyPlate recognizes, “There is more than one way to eat healthfully and everyone has their own eating style.” Here are some tips to help enhance the appeal of the healthy eating plans with dairy foods:

Here are some meal ideas that show how low fat and fat free dairy foods can be used to enhance the nutrition and appeal in three different healthy eating styles:

Those following a Healthy U.S.-Style eating plan might start the day with a yogurt breakfast parfait, enjoy a cold glass of milk with a bowl of chicken and veggie chili for lunch, and top a garden salad with fresh mozzarella cheese to go with a dinner entree featuring lean meat, poultry or fish. 

A lacto-ovo vegetarian who follows the Healthy Vegetarian eating style, might enjoy this Crust-less Spinach Quiche for breakfast, a sandwich made with fresh tomato, lettuce and cheese on whole grain bread spread with hummus for lunch, and a favorite flavor of Greek yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack. 

Families that embrace the Healthy Mediterranean-Style of eating might enjoy starting the day with a breakfast omelet enfolded with feta cheese, fresh tomato, fennel, and mushrooms, eating a comforting bowl of white bean and spinach soup made with milk for lunch, and serving Greek Chicken Wrap with Tzatziki Herb Yogurt Sauce for a casual dinner.