Dairy is one of the five food groups outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It contains many nutrients your body uses on a daily basis, such as protein, vitamin D, and calcium. Calcium has been shown to improve bone mass, and vitamin D helps maintain that mass. It is recommended you eat or drink three servings of dairy per day. One serving of dairy is equal to:
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 1.5 ounces natural cheese
- 2 ounces processed cheese (like American or Velveeta)
If you are unable or choose not to consume dairy, stock up on calcium-fortified foods and beverages: sardines, canned salmon, soy products, collard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy.
A number of milk-alternatives have appeared in the dairy aisle at the grocery store, but soy milk is the most comparable to cow's milk because of the protein content. The guide below provides an overview of the many other milk-alternatives available so you can make an informed choice.
Eat three servings of dairy every day this week. Substitute with soy ingredients if needed.
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- Calcium intake, calcium bioavailability and bone health. US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health
- Vitamin D for health: a global perspective. US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health
- Bone Nutrients for Vegetarians. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Melina, VesantoCraig, WinstonLevin, Susan et al. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 116, Issue 12, 1970 – 1980.