Milk plays an important role in many diets today. It’s a natural, nutrient-packed food that is a “good” or “excellent” source of nine essential nutrients, including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorous, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin.
- Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
- Vitamin D helps the body absorb and use calcium.
- Protein helps build and repair muscles.
- Potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure and muscle activity and maintain the body’s fluid balance.
Children ages 2 to 8 need 2 cups from the Milk Group daily. Children ages 9 and older need at least 3 cups daily. Adults need 3 cups daily. One cup of milk equals:
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 1½ ounces of natural cheese
- 2 ounces processed cheese
Glass for glass, reduced-fat, fat-free and whole milk only differ in the amount of fat and calories they contain. The other nutrients are about the same.
This chart shows how the different milks compare:
|Calcium||300 mg||300 mg||300 mg||300 mg||300 mg|
Fitting Calcium in Your Day
- Enjoy milk with meals.
- Have “milk breaks” instead of coffee breaks.
- Use milk instead of water when making hot cereal or cream soups.
- Enjoy yogurt parfaits for dessert. Layer yogurt with slices of peaches, strawberries or other fruits.
- Add low-fat cheese to casseroles, baked potatoes or vegetables to add some calcium.
- Serve a variety of calcium-containing foods, such as broccoli and other leafy greens, and cooked dry edible beans.
Drink a glass of milk before bedtime:
Casein absorption: Almost 80% of the protein found in milk is in the phosphorus-containing form known as casein – a complete protein. The remaining 20% of protein in milk is whey protein. It has an excellent amino acid profile and is primarily known as “bed time protein” because it takes up to 7 hours to be absorbed by the body making it ideal for before bed. Just make sure, though, that you are drinking either skim or 1-2% milk and not the whole-milk variety.