Nutrition Research Roundup: 5 Things You Need to Know

As we wrap up the year and look to 2020, one thing is certain: nutrition will always be a hot topic. Diet trends and nutritional preferences are constantly changing, but dairy’s proven nutrition will always remain the same. Here are our top 5 picks for the most important nutrition research of 2019:

Chocolate milk IS the best post-workout recovery drink.
Why? Chocolate milk has:

  • Eight grams of high-quality protein, per eight-ounce glass
  • The ideal carb-to-protein ratio for recovery
  • Water and electrolytes – calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium – for optimal hydration

Other recovery drinks fell short of chocolate milk’s many benefits. Check out this post on how it made a big difference in high school athletes’ recovery and performance! Learn more

Cow’s milk and water are the ONLY drinks recommended for children under 5.

In September 2019, four major health groups came together to release the “Healthy Beverage Consumption in Early Childhood” consensus statement which recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 5 only drink cow’s milk and water – and may have 100% fruit juice sparingly. Breast milk or infant formula is recommended for kids 0-12 months of age. Whole milk is recommended for most children ages 12-24 months and fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk for children ages 2 years and older. The report, which compared nine types of beverages, also states that all sugar sweetened beverages, flavored milk and plant-based alternatives (except fortified soy milk) are not recommended in the diets of children ages 0-5.

This interactive summary makes it easy to compare beverages, and it even breaks down by age.

Full-fat dairy may lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Although dietitians, such as myself, have recommended low-fat dairy and skim milk in the past, new research suggests that full-fat dairy, when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, may actually protect against heart disease and lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Dairy still contains saturated fat, but newer studies indicate that the source matters, so drink what you love!

Oh, and if you’re worried about calories, reduced-fat (2%) milk clocks in at only 105 calories for an 8-ounce glass and contains the same nine essential nutrients as low-fat and fat-free milk. 

Dairy DOES have a place in plant-based diets.

Rejoice! You can still enjoy cheese as part of a healthy plant-based diet. More and more people these days are choosing plant-forward or vegetarian diets, whether for health or environmental reasons. It’s a major trending topic expected to continue into 2020. However, plant-based doesn’t mean dairy-free, and research suggests that pairing dairy with a plant-based diet can help close nutrient gaps, including getting adequate protein and vitamins (such as B12), and provide a varied and delicious diet.

If it’s the environment you’re concerned with, this is a great resource covering food systems and nutrition sustainability – another predicted hot topic of 2020!

Fermented foods are important for gut health and may help lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

We know probiotics found in fermented foods – such as yogurt and kefir – are great for gut health, but did you know they may also reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes? Fermented foods are another trend that I foresee continuing into the next year, especially since the yogurt section in the grocery store now takes up nearly an entire aisle, and we’re seeing kombucha and kefir on the rise. With so many varieties and flavors to choose from, fermented dairy is an easy healthy snack to keep on hand.

That concludes our research round up from 2019. We’re excited to see what 2020 brings!

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By Dana Omari, RDN, LDN

Dana Omari is a registered dietitian and believer in preventive nutrition. She is a member of the American and Texas Academies of Nutrition and Dietetics. When she’s not working, Dana volunteers for Homemade Hope and Champagne and Yoga. Learn more about Dana here.