It’s all about dairy in the month of June

University of Florida nutrition expert says a glass of milk packs a ‘nutritious punch’

HEALTH-CONSCIOUS PEOPLE may fire up special juicers or buy prepared beverages that are touted to benefit the body— but a strong case can also be made for a good, old-fashioned glass of milk. As National Dairy Month is recognized in June, we are reminded of its rich history and evolving tradition.
National Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. Originally created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, it has developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions of the dairy industry.
After the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the cause, the name soon changed to “Dairy Month.”
A University of Florida nutrition expert says a glass of milk packs a “nutritious punch.” Gail Kauwell, food science and human nutrition professor, says dairy food nutrients play many important roles in maintaining good health.
She encourages milk as part of a healthy eating pattern. Studies support an association between higher dairy food intake and lower risk for type 2 diabetes, she says— although she cautions that these studies do not prove cause and effect.
She says that several key vitamins and minerals naturally present in cow’s milk are only present in soy, almond, rice, and coconut beverages if they are added to the product. When it comes to protein, only soy beverages provide an amount equal to that of cow’s milk.
Those with dietary restrictions or concerns need not be deprived of enjoying the beverage, experts say. People who are lactose intolerant may be able to drink small amounts of milk without adverse symptoms, or may prefer to drink lactose-free milk or a fortified soy beverage.
There are also people who cannot drink cow’s milk because of a food allergy. Those who are allergic, and those practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet also may choose to drink a fortified soy beverage, said Kaley Mialki, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) graduate and registered dietitian.
“If individuals are watching their weight, switching from full-fat milk, cheese and yogurt to low-fat or fat-free milk products can reduce calorie and fat consumption,” Mialki says, “but still allow for intake of other important nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals.”
article by MARY TOOTHMAN

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