Dairy Makes Sense for its Nutrition and Economic Value

As the U.S. drought continues and farmers struggle to meet the demands of higher feed costs, the potential for increased food prices in the grocery store becomes greater. While the extent of the increase is unknown, what remains certain is that dairy, at any price point, remains one of the most economical sources of nutrition.Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide nine essential nutrients, including three that Americans are missing the most – calcium, potassium and vitamin D. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines confirms the importance of dairy’s contribution to overall health by recommending three daily servings of low-fat and fat-free milk products for people ages 9 and older. To skimp on dairy would mean skimping on nutrition – something no one can afford to do.

Families can bank on dairy for its nutrition, value and taste. Consider the following during your next visit to the dairy aisle:
next visit to the dairy aisle:

  • Milk is America’s number one food source of bone-building calcium. While some beverages claim to deliver as much calcium in milk, the calcium added to fortified beverages, like orange juice and soy beverage, is actually harder for the body to absorb. Not to mention, milk is typically less expensive, costing only about 25 cents a glass. To save money, buy milk by the gallon and make it your mealtime beverage.
  • Cheese is another leading source of calcium in the American diet, and also provides high-quality protein, a nutrient important to muscle health. One ounce of hard cheese, like Cheddar, contains 8 grams of high-quality protein; an egg contains only 6 grams. To cut costs without cutting taste or nutritional value, purchase cheese in block form and shred or cube it yourself for recipes like this family favorite, Rainbow Fruit and Cheese Kabobs.
  • Yogurt provides calcium and protein. And did you know that an 8-ounce serving contains about the same amount of potassium (a nutrient that helps maintain blood pressure) as a banana? Yogurt also can boost nutrition of other meals when added as an ingredient. To get more bang for your buck, buy low-fat plain yogurt by the quart and mix in your own fruits and flavors. These Berry Yogurt Parfait Pancakes are a delicious way to serve yogurt.

As you can see, dairy is a nutritional bargain. How does your family benefit from it the most? Please share your favorite recipes, snack ideas and cost-savings tips.

Posted On August 20th, 2012 by
Stephanie Cundith, MS, RD, LD
As a registered dietitian and nutrition spokesperson for Midwest Dairy Council, I work on behalf of dairy farmers to communicate the benefits of dairy nutrition. In addition to Dairy Makes Sense, I am a blogger for The Dairy Report.

Read more about Stephanie Cundith, MS, RD, LD

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