Greg Miller, executive vice president of science and research for the National Dairy Council, says milk is “the number one food source” of three of the four nutrients that the guidelines say Americans need more of: calcium, potassium and Vitamin D (fiber’s the fourth; alas, milk has none). Milk comes by the first two naturally; almost all milk sold in the U.S. is fortified with Vitamin D.
This column is part of a series about incorporating the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into your diet.
Test your knowledge
How many cups of milk or milk products should you consume per day?
Answer: A. The guidelines recommend three cups of low- or nonfat milk or milk products for people age 9 and older. The typical U.S. adult consumes only half that amount.
What constitutes a dairy food, according to the dietary guidelines?
A. Milk, cream and cheese
B. Milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs
C. Milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream
Answer: C. The new “milk and milk products” category includes milk, yogurt, frozen yogurt, dairy desserts (such as ice cream) and cheese. Cream doesn’t count. The guidelines explain that “cream, sour cream and cream cheese are not included due to their low calcium content.”
Soy milk is part of the guidelines’ dairy group.
Answer: A. “New with this set of guidelines, soy milk, which is essentially a plant-based milk, is a full-fledged member of the dairy group,” says Trish Britten, a nutritionist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. That’s good for vegetarians and for people with lactose intolerance, because fortified soy milk “is similar to milk across a range of nutrients.”
What is skim milk?
A. Whole milk that’s diluted with water to make it less fattening
B. The milk that’s left after the fat is skimmed away from whole milk
C. Milk that comes from specially bred, leaner cows
Answer: B. USDA-sponsored focus groups have shown that some people believe skim milk is just full-fat milk with water added, says Jackie Haven, director of nutrition marketing and communication for the USDA. In fact, skim milk is what’s left when the fat is skimmed away from whole milk. The key nutrients remain intact.
Which has more calcium?
A. Greek yogurt
B. Regular yogurt
Answer: B. Regular yogurt is generally higher in calcium. Greek yogurt, which is made by draining most of the liquid from regular yogurt, has more protein, says Greg Miller of the National Dairy Council.
Benefits of milk
Your health. Milk consumption is associated with bone health in children and adolescents, the guidelines say. Among adults, drinking milk may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and may help lower blood pressure.