June is National Dairy Month, a time to raise awareness about the delicious, nutritious qualities of dairy products. Established in 1937 by a chain of grocery stores as a way to promote drinking milk at a time when dairy production was at a surplus, the annual commemoration now pays tribute to dairy producers and their products.
Did you know that an average dairy cow weighs over 1,200 pounds and can produce about eight gallons of milk every day? She needs to eat 90 pounds to 100 pounds of food and drink 35-50 gallons of water to produce that amount of milk. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to make just one pound of cheese, 12 pounds of milk to make a gallon of ice cream and almost 22 pounds to make a pound of butter.
Although nearly all households in the United States regularly purchase milk, along with dairy products like yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice cream, most Americans still do not get enough dairy in their diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services dietary guidelines reinforce the importance of adults including three cups of dairy in their daily food intake.
Rich in essential nutrients, dairy products are the best source for calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. A single 8-ounce serving of milk provides:
25 percent of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
16 percent of the daily recommended amount of protein. Protein in milk helps build and repair muscle tissue.
15 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important to help promote calcium absorption for bone health and helps with resistance against disease.
20 percent of the daily recommended amount of phosphorus. Phosphorous helps strengthen bones and generates energy in the body’s cells to support tissue growth.
15 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision and skin. It also helps regulate cell growth and maintains the immune system.
35 percent of the daily recommended amount of riboflavin. Riboflavin is needed to help the body use carbohydrates, fat and protein for fuel.
10 percent of the daily recommended amount of potassium. Potassium helps lower blood pressure.
50 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12, which helps with normal blood function and helps keep the nervous system health.
10 percent of the daily recommended amount of niacin. Niacin is used in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids, and it is important for the normal function of many enzymes in the body.
Among the reasons Americans do not consume enough dairy are concerns about calorie intake, the amount of saturated fat in dairy and the large variety of nondairy products available to consumers. But the nutritional benefits of dairy likely outweigh potential health concerns. Although dairy is a source of saturated fat, recent studies have failed to link the saturated fat found in dairy products to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, that doesn’t mean you should eat unlimited amounts of high-fat dairy products like ice cream, butter and cheese. If you limit your dairy intake to no more than three servings a day, you can choose whatever fat level you prefer. Although ice cream does count as a dairy product, it also contains more sugar and calories so be careful about portion size.
Dietary guidelines published by the USDA and the American Heart Association recommend all dairy consumed should be low fat or nonfat, and adults should consume two to three servings a day. Keep in mind that a serving of milk equals a cup; a serving of cheese is 1/3-cup shredded or 1 ½ ounces for hard cheeses. It takes two cups of cottage cheese to equal the nutrients in one cup of milk.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Ricotta Peach Tart
Makes 24 servings
1 cup cow’s milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
3-4 ripe peaches cored and sliced
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixed bowl combined ricotta, egg and next three ingredients. Set aside. Roll out puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a paring knife to score a line around the perimeter of the pastry, about 1 inch from the edge. Spoon the cheese mixture over the dough inside the scored edges, spreading out to an even layer. Place the sliced peaches in vertical rows, overlapping just slightly until the entire tart is filled. Brush edges with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until crust is golden and edges are puffed up.
Nutrition Information: 92 calories, 5 g fat, 9 g carbs, .5 g fiber, 3 g protein, 44 mg sodium