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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Three servings of dairy per day provide many health benefits

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Ask the Nutritionist: Three servings of dairy per day provide many health benefits

The National Restaurant Association's Director of Nutrition & Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., provides regular commentary on the NRA News blog. In this post, she's sharing useful information about the benefits of dairy.

With National Dairy Month now in full swing, it's the perfect time to think about incorporating low fat dairy products into your diet such as milk, cheese and yogurt which provide essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein.

The nutrients in dairy products provide a multitude of health benefits for both children and adults, particularly around bone health. Consuming dairy products is also associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 3 servings per day of low fat dairy as part of a balanced diet, so next time you are dining out, keep these tips in mind:

• When ordering breakfast, try plain, low-fat yogurt topped with fresh fruit.

• If ordering oatmeal, request that it is made with fat-free or 1% milk instead of water.

• Order your lattes or coffee with fat-free or 1% milk.

• For a summertime occasional treat, try low-fat frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit or nuts.

• Order items with feta or goat cheese, which are typically lower in fat than other cheeses.

• Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium from dairy, so also order foods high in that nutrient, such as salmon, tuna, and mushrooms.

• If you are lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy dairy products and their nutritional benefits. There are several options available these days, including lactose-free milk and yogurt. You can also substitute soy or almond milk, as long as it’s fortified with calcium and/or vitamin D.

The National Restaurant Association recognizes the importance of providing children healthful dairy options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in the Association's Kids LiveWell initiative offer healthful menu items for children, with a focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Applebee's, Chick-fil-A and Corner Bakery are just some of the Kids LiveWell participants that provide low-fat dairy items in kids' meals. Visit HealthyDiningFinder.com or use our smartphone app to find participating restaurants near you.

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