Dairy: Benefits Beyond Bone Health

Posted by Jenna Allen, MS, RDN

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tags: Bone Health, Nutrition

When we hear the words dairy foods or milk, we often think of calcium and strong bones. It’s well established that dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium. In fact, milk is the number one food source of calcium, while cheese is the number two food source of this bone-building nutrient.

As we celebrate May and Osteoporosis Awareness Month, we recognize dairy’s bone-building benefits. However, this month and every month, we also celebrate the fact that milk is a good or excellent source of nine essential nutrients – nutrients that help nourish your body, not just your bones. In fact, milk, cheese and yogurt are an important part of a healthy diet, and studies have shown they may even play a role in reducing your risk of certain diseases.

  • Dairy has been linked with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes – Researchers analyzing a variety of studies found that people who ate dairy, especially yogurt, had a 6 to 20 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Dairy has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease – Several studies have shown that people who eat dairy, especially low-fat dairy, had a lower risk of both heart disease and stroke.
  • Dairy’s nutrients can help lower blood pressure – dairy is rich with a trio of nutrients – calcium, potassium and magnesium – that can help lower blood pressure in combination with a DASH-style diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
  • Dairy has been linked with a lower risk of osteoporosis – The essential nutrients in dairy, especially calcium and vitamin D, are important for achieving peak bone mass and reducing risk for osteoporosis later in life. Research has linked eating dairy foods to improved bone health, especially in children and teenagers.

Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide many important nutrients not easily obtained from other foods. Dairy foods are an important source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, three of the four nutrients of concern (nutrients Americans are falling short on) according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Enjoying just two to three daily servings of dairy foods, as part of a balanced diet, can help us meet nutrient needs while lowering our risk of certain chronic diseases.

Want to learn more about dairy’s health benefits? Visit our page on the topic!

Jenna Allen, MS, RDN

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