Weigh the benefits of eating dairy

June 19, 2002|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Are you getting all the benefits of dairy foods? Enough to maintain beautiful bones and teeth? Enough to help maintain a healthy weight, to lower blood pressure, and to reduce the risk of diabetes?

Three servings a day, which provide 900 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium, along with protein, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium, is definitely the healthy "weigh" to go.

Daily calcium needs depend on your age:

Children 1 to 3 years - 500 mg

Children 4 -8 years - 800 mg

Adolescents 9 -18 years -1,300 mg

Adults 19 -50 years - 1,000 mg

Adults 51+ years - 1,200 mg

Calcium guidelines are designed to build bones and to help prevent heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. Get the calcium you need today and stay strong for years to come.

  • Drink milk.

    A tall, cold glass of milk is the most refreshing way to close your calcium gap - and enjoy a long list of bodybuilding nutrients at the same time. For maximum nutrition and minimum fat, drink 1 percent or skim milk (labeled as low-fat or fat-free in your dairy case).

  • Eat yogurt.

    There's a yogurt to suit every taste - from key lime pie and peach melba to plain and old-fashioned vanilla. Perfect for breakfast-on-the-run, high-octane snacks, and cooking at home, yogurt now also comes as a drinkable beverage and shelf-stable yogurt-to-go.

  • Sprinkle on cheese.

    Natural hard cheese can be a nutrient-dense way to add flavor to food. Looking for tasty ways to minimize your fat intake? Use grated cheese with a strong flavor like Parmesan or Romano. Choose part-skim cheese like mozzarella or cheddar made with 2 percent milk.

  • Choose cottage cheese.

    For real protein power, choose versatile, low-fat cottage cheese - perfect for cooked dishes like lasagna; blended in dips and salad dressings; and combined with fruit for summer salads.

    Bone note: Cottage cheese is not as high in calcium as some dairy foods.

  • Indulge in dairy desserts.

    Cold, creamy and sweet - everyone screams for ice cream, especially in summer. Get wise to portion size (go for a single, rather than a double) and add nutrition with fresh fruit and a sprinkling of nuts. For less fat, go for low-fat varieties or for frozen yogurt.

  • Cook with powdered milk.

    Dry milk is an easy, inexpensive and powerful way to pump nutrition into everyday cooking. Ways to use non-fat powdered milk are almost endless: casseroles, creamed soups (canned, dry and homemade), hot cereal (microwave or regular) and pudding.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with the Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

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