The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate educational tool recommends choosing foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Dairy foods contain three of the four nutrients of concern. Dairy foods provide a powerhouse of nutrients in an affordable, appealing and accessible way. With just 10 percent of the calories in the American diet, milk delivers a package of nine essential nutrients important for good health. Few foods provide this unique contribution of nutrients.
How much milk and milk products do the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend? An easy way for moms to think about achieving the recommendations is to serve three "age-appropriate" servings daily. The most recent guidelines focus on children, and calls for an increase in consumption of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products. Specifically, the recommendation for:
- ages 9 and older is 3 cups (three eight-ounce servings)
- ages 4-8, is 2.5 cups (2.5 eight-ounce servings)
- ages 2-3, is 2 cups (2 eight-ounce servings)
Why dairy? According to the guidelines, moderate evidence shows that intake of milk and milk products is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Moderate evidence also indicates that intake of milk and milk products is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults.
Is it just the guidelines that make this recommendation? Many health professional organizations and nutrition experts have long recognized the importance of three daily servings of dairy foods as part of a positive, nutrient-rich approach. Additionally, the National Medical Association, Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend consuming at least three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods per day.
Are we getting enough dairy? Americans are currently consuming about two dairy servings per day on average. Adding just one more serving of dairy can help fill some of America's nutrient gaps.
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