Welcome to June – National Dairy Month!

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Milk being poured from a bottle

June is National Dairy Month and the perfect time to add some cool, delicious dairy food to a well-balanced diet. Few other foods contain calcium naturally in amounts similar to milk which has a unique combination of 9 essential nutrients: protein calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D & B12, riboflavin, and niacin. To provide the same amount of calcium found in one 8 ounce cup of milk (30mg) you would need to eat 3 ½ cups of broccoli, 1 cup of almonds, or 10 cups of spinach. The current US Dietary Guidelines have identified Calcium, Potassium, and vitamin D as nutrients of concern and recommend that individuals increase dairy intake in fat-free or low-fat forms.

Nutrient-rich milk and milk products contribute to healthy bodies including bone health for people in all walks of life including children, teens, seniors, and athletes. According to Vasanti Malik with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “when included as part of a balanced diet, dairy is an easy way to get the calcium, vitamin D and protein needed to keep heart, muscles, and bones healthy and functioning properly”. Malik recommends plain Greek yogurt as his go-to dairy source due to its versatility. You can eat it alone, add it to other dishes, make smoothies, parfaits or veggie dip. Sticking with low-fat dairy reduces intake of saturated fat but still offers good amounts of nutrients.

The calcium and vitamin D in milk have long been known to help build and maintain strong bones but cultured dairy foods like yogurt, kefir and even buttermilk also provide the body with probiotics (the good bacteria) that keep your gut healthy. Two to three servings of low fat or fat-free dairy foods a day are recommended by Choose My Plate. Go ahead and have some dairy! Check out the following links for some nutrient-rich dairy recipes: The Dairy Alliance, The National Dairy Council. Check out this NC State Extension Homegrown video for more information about the Dairy Industry in North Carolina.