Learn About the Five Food Groups with Olivia Kinkade, Part 5: Dairy

Photo of Olivia Kinkade, clinical nutrition department team member at United Hospital Center.

Recommended by Olivia Kinkade, clinical nutrition department team member at United Hospital Center.

We are embarking upon a food group journey in recognition of National Nutrition Awareness Month! Join us to discover interesting details on the five main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Our adventure comes to a close with the dairy food group.

How much food from the dairy group is needed daily?

Our bodies are all unique. The amount of dairy you should include in your diet depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. About 90% of Americans do not get enough dairy. Therefore, most individuals would benefit by increasing fat-free or low-fat dairy intake, whether from milk (including lactose-free milk), yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy milk or yogurt. Breastfeeding and pregnant women also have different nutritional protein intake needs.

Why should I eat/drink dairy?

Dairy plays a vital role in the body – it helps the body build and maintain strong bones and offers additional nutrients necessary for overall health and maintenance. Dairy provides the body calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

Discover the following nutritional benefits of dairy:

  • Which nutrients are found in dairy? Calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, zinc, choline, magnesium, and selenium are all found in dairy foods.
  • Calcium helps the human body build bones and teeth and maintain bone strength as you grow older. What’s the primary source of calcium in the American diet? Dairy!
  • Potassium-rich diets may help you maintain healthy blood pressure – and potassium is found in dairy products, like dairy milk and yogurt and fortified soy milk.
  • Vitamin D functions in the body to maintain proper calcium and phosphorous levels, helping to build and strengthen bones. Milk and soy milk fortified with vitamin D are good sources of this nutrient. Other sources include fish such as salmon and other foods fortified with vitamin D.
  • Milk products consumed in their low-fat or fat-free forms provide very little saturated fat.

What counts as a cup in the dairy food group?

In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soy milk, or 1 ½ ounce of natural cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the dairy food group.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the dairy food group!  Join here at UHCHouseCall.com to discover more about the remaining four food groups.

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