Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dairy packs power with nine essential nutrients

There is a lot involved in dairy farming in order to bring fresh milk to your kitchen table.  

It takes only about 48 hours for the milk to travel from the cow to the grocery store. This includes the time it is at the processing plant being pasteurized, homogenized and then either bottled or turned into other dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

Dairy foods, like milk, cheese and yogurt, are excellent sources of nine essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D and protein. These nutrients are essential for bone growth, energy production and muscle development. And with so many varieties and flavors available, it is so easy to get the 3 to 4 servings recommended daily.

Besides enjoying milk with every meal, add cheese to your omelet or scrambled eggs for breakfast, enjoy a cup of yogurt as a snack, or add a slice of your favorite cheese to your sandwich or salad at lunch or dinner—I love feta cheese on my salads and a slice of pepperjack on my sandwiches. Speaking of pepperjack, if you are looking for a grilled cheese sandwich with a kick to it, try using pepperjack cheese instead of American or cheddar. It’s delicious!

So we know it’s important to drink milk and eat cheese and yogurt, but is this just important for kids with growing bones? The answer is no. Milk consumption shouldn’t stop once you get your driver’s license. Adults and senior citizens need it to keep their bones strong, too. Grandpa is the perfect example. He is 90 years old and took a bad fall in April and broke his hip. He has been an avid milk drinker since he was a kid and it made a difference. The calcium in milk keeps bones strong and can help to prevent osteoporosis. After a month in the hospital and physical therapy after a hip replacement, he is back home on the farm—not on the tractor for now though. I couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversations between him and the dietitians that worked with him at the hospital. They kept stressing the importance of a balanced diet, including milk with every meal. Grandpa may not milk cows anymore, but he always makes sure there is milk in his glass at meal time.

One of my favorite ways to get one of my servings of milk is by enjoying an ice-cold glass of low-fat chocolate milk after my daily run. Science has shown chocolate milk is an great recovery beverage after exercise due to its ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein. It also tastes delicious! Chocolate milk has been my recovery drink of choice since my high school cross country days and it’s made a difference in my running and reduced my recovery time after a tough workout or race. Try it and you will see why.

For a recap of how the dairy industry contributes to the local community and economy and to learn more about some sustainable farming practices, check out these prior posts. 

Thanks for tuning in this June Dairy Month! June may be ending soon, but don't forget your three servings of dairy every day of the year. Your bones will thank you! (As will the dairy cows!)

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