I was surprised recently to learn that many Americans are unaware of the health benefits of milk and dairy products. Some have heard about the probiotic benefits of yogurt and others may have heard that milk is actually a better post-work-out boost than some specialty drinks and shakes, but few know the overall nutritional benefits of dairy.
So, I assembled a list of top 10 facts I think are helpful to know. It’s especially important for parents to understand the critical role of calcium – which Americans most often get from dairy products – as our kids grow and develop. Of course, the same is true as we age – especially women facing increased threat of osteoporosis. Before I give away all the facts, I invite you to read the list for yourself.
- Milk is naturally nutritious, with fewer added ingredients than alternatives.
- One cup of milk is naturally packed with 7 essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin, and fortified with vitamin A and vitamin D.
- The protein in milk helps build and repair muscles: one glass provides 16 percent (8 grams) of the recommended daily protein amount. People looking for healthy options are consuming more whey, which is a high-quality protein naturally found in milk.
- Studies have found that chocolate milk helps athletes refuel as well as or better than popular sports drinks because of its mix of energy-boosting protein, electrolytes and carbohydrates. It’s a natural post-work-out rehydration.
- Leading health and nutrition organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recognize the important role of dairy products in a healthy diet.
- Yogurt contains probiotics which are associated with helping people maintain a healthy digestive system. Look for the “contains live and active cultures” seal on the label.
- Foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt provide natural, high-quality protein, and research suggests a high protein diet can help with weight management by helping a person feel full longer between meals.
- Researchers believe diets rich in potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Dairy products, especially yogurt and milk, provide potassium.
- Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth and maintain bone mass. Dairy products are the primary source of calcium in American diets. The intake of dairy products is especially important to bone health during childhood and later in life when it may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Intake of dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and with lower blood pressure in adults, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Were you surprised by any of the facts? If so, you’re not alone. You may also be surprised to learn that dairy cows produce the most milk when they are stress-free and content. It might sound odd to someone outside of agriculture to hear about “stress-free” animals, but it’s something dairy farmers pay very close attention to. In fact, after spending time on many dairy farms, I can honestly say that some farmers pay closer attention to keeping stress low for their cows than for themselves. At any rate, I admire the 24/7 commitment of dairy farmers to take topnotch care of their animals. They are supplying nutrient-packed products that help us stay healthy and keep our families healthy too.
If you have questions about any of the facts above, please feel free to send me an email at AskDrDorman@pahc.com or call me at 844-288-3623.