Count on the Value of Milk

June 17th, 2016 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Alex Larson MS, RD, LD and Beth Bruck-Upton MA, RD, Midwest Dairy Council

June Dairy Month is a good time to remember why we can feel confident serving our families three daily servings of nutritious, delicious and affordable dairy products.

Fat-free (skim) milk, 2% and whole milk have a unique combination of nine essential nutrients that include calcium, protein, potassium, as well as vitamins A, B 12 and D — essential nutrients many Americans lack in their diets.

As a registered dietitian and mother of two children, I often get asked what I serve my family and how non-dairy based beverages compare to cow’s milk beverages.

Milk_Comparison-Chart MDAMy first response is that we are so fortunate today to walk down the dairy aisle at the grocery store and have so many options available to us. There is a choice available for everyone depending on what you are looking for. I always start the conversation with the Nutrition Facts Label and the ingredient list so that you can make the most informed choice for what is best for you and your family. The Nutrition Facts Panel will confirm that cow’s milk contributes 9 essential nutrients to our diet. The ingredient list is really where the conversation begins. If you take a look at the ingredient list for 1% cow’s milk for example, you will notice that the list reads: Low fat milk, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D3. That’s it. Pretty simple. In comparison, a non-dairy beverage will include a much longer list of added ingredients. Non-dairy beverages such as soy or almond based beverages, which are plant-based, are fortified with added vitamins and minerals to mimic the nutrient profile found in cow’s milk.

So when comparing cow’s milk to plant-based beverages, it’s easy to see why health professionals encourage three daily servings of dairy foods. It’s simple:

Compare dairy’s naturally occurring nutrients to what non-dairy drinks must add.

Dairy makes sense

Dairy-3-for-Me-Badge-Hashtag-400x403Milk is an excellent value when you consider the price and nutrition offered in a single serving. Here is a list of the foods you would have to eat to receive the same nutritional benefit as an 8-oz. serving of milk:

  • 1 cup kidney beans (phosphorus)
  • 3-1/2 oz. cooked salmon (vitamin D)
  • 2 baby carrots (vitamin A)
  • One small banana (phosphorus)
  • 2-1/4 cups broccoli (calcium)
  • 1 cup raw spinach (magnesium)
  • 1/3 cup almonds (riboflavin)

Combined, these foods total approximately 580 calories and cost about $7.25.

Whereas an 8-oz. serving of fat-free or low-fat milk is only 80 and 100 calories respectively, and costs around $.25 per serving.

Adding dairy to your diet

In addition to being affordable and nutritious, dairy is delicious. Try these easy tips for adding delicious dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt to your meals and snacks.

  • Make morning oatmeal with milk instead of water. Or “wow” your family with oatmeal crème brulee.
  • Use milk as an ingredient in soups and smoothies like the blues buster smoothie
  • Help tired muscles recover post-workout with a glass of chocolate milk
  • Lactose intolerant? Try lactose-free milk. You’ll still receive the nutritional benefits of dairy.
  • Make milk your family’s staple mealtime beverage
  • Use milk in your hot cocoa or coffee. Try this delicious hazelnut café-au-lait.
  • Bring your kids into the kitchen to blend up a delicious Enjoy it as a drink or freeze it into smoothie pops to enjoy as a nutritious treat.
  • Add protein to your afternoon snacks with cheese. Try these Rainbow Fruit and Cheese Kabobs.
  • Start your morning with a balanced breakfast. Try this Easy to Please Breakfast Yogurt Parfait.
  • Have fun with the kids with these Pita Pizza Faces.

During June Dairy Month and all year long, we can feel good serving our families three daily servings of dairy knowing it’s nutritious, delicious and affordable. Pledge your commitment to getting 3 servings of dairy foods each day by taking the #Dairy3forMe pledge.

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