By Did you know that osteoporosis is a health threat to approximately 55% of Americans age 50 or older? In the US osteoporosis affects 10 million people and another 34 million people have a low bone mass, placing them at a higher risk for developing the disease. Calcium plays a key role in building bones from birth. Even though bone growth peaks in our early 20’s, we still need calcium to keep bones strong.
June is National Dairy Month, so what better time to make sure your body is getting the calcium and other nutrients provided by milk and other dairy foods? Dairy foods are a great source of calcium and also a good source of vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, which work together to strengthen bones.
How much do you need? Adults should aim for at least 3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy each day. So what’s a serving? 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt or 1½ ounces of cheese. And to show you just how easy it is to include milk products in your daily meals, here are some fun and tasty ideas to try:
· A smoothie whipped in the blender with frozen fruit, ice, low-fat yogurt and a banana
· A simple dessert using low-fat instant pudding mix and non-fat milk topped with bananas or strawberries for added flavor and nutrients.
· A parfait using low-fat yogurt, fruit and bran cereal or nuts for added crunch and fiber.
· For a hot drink, heat a cup of milk and add a packet non-fat cocoa mix.
· Nachos made by heating tortilla chips spread with black beans and shredded low-fat cheese in microwave. Top with salsa and non-fat sour cream
· Pasta dishes like lasagna made with low-fat ricotta cheese, which is higher in calcium than cottage cheese.
· Iced coffee prepared with a cup of cold coffee, a cup of low-fat milk, ice and artificial sweetener.
· Pancakes or waffles topped with low-fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt and fruit sprinkled with cinnamon
· Dips made with low-fat or non-fat yogurt for dunking vegetables
· Oatmeal prepared with low-fat milk instead of water.
One thing to keep in mind is that calcium and other nutrient supplements don’t always work the same way as they do when consumed from foods, so choose food first to meet your nutritional needs. If you want more information about getting enough calcium or have other nutrition questions, talk to a Registered Dietitian. To find one in your area, go to www.eatright.org/public/fard.aspx
Anna Jones is a dietetic intern at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva Cochran in May.