Just when you thought the news today would be bad, we're here to save the day. The chocolate milk that you’re craving? The Greek yogurt? The aromatic cheeses? Not only are they delicious (okay, you already knew that), but they can also help you reach your wellness goals.
All is right in the world, for milk is more than just the perfect partner for your bowl of cereal. Along with its delicious dairy cousins cheese and yogurt, milk can form a crucial part of a balanced diet. While you may know that dairy foods can help build strong bones (more on this later), you probably didn't know that dairy consumption is also linked with the reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
We've partnered with Dairy Good to bring you a list of how low-fat/fat-free dairy can help your health. Far be it from us to tell you what to do, but we think the article pairs well with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.
A strong, sturdy skeleton is not just important for, say, Skeletor. Bone density is serious – particularly as people age. A 2007 study concluded that osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become porous, contributed to a jaw-dropping 1.5 million fractures per year, including 300,000 hip breaks. While men are certainly at risk, women sustain 75% of all hip fractures.
Luckily, what we eat and drink in our youths – including and especially dairy products – can help build your bone bank needed later in life.
Some of the most important nutrients for bone health are calcium, protein, phosphorus and magnesium, all of which occur naturally in dairy products. Moreover, milk is fortified with bone-healthy vitamin D. A recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that 3 to 4 servings per day of cow's milk (and milk products) is recommended for children and adolescents, respectively, and is associated with high bone mineral content and reduced risk of fracture in adulthood.
So drink milk now, and it may help maintain bone health later.
Some studies have shown that dairy foods favorably contribute to oral health when combined with proper hygiene. Dairy foods contribute calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D that likely play a key role in helping promote healthy teeth.
We make it a policy to never disagree with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson about anything, especially when the anything is working out. And The Rock is a proponent of pumping up and drinking milk. (If you only click one hyperlink today, make sure it's this one.)
Science is smart, so it also agrees with The Rock. According to sports dietitian Dr. Christopher Mohr, milk is a great way to refuel after exercising. The beverage has been shown to be great for muscles – coupled with carbohydrates, the high-quality protein contained in milk helps replenish muscle energy stores, improve recovery and repair, and even help rebuild muscle. Milk can also help you rehydrate and restore electrolytes (e.g., potassium). So instead of reaching for a sports drink, consider grabbing a cold glass of milk.
It's fair to call diabetes an epidemic in America: According to the American Diabetes Association, 29 million Americans -- or 9.3 percent of the population -- had the disease in 2012. (That number represented an increase of a full percent from 2010.) If left untreated, Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious problems for a person's eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. Lifestyle changes are essential to helping manage or reduce risk of the disease.
Dairy may help fight the trend. Research indicates milk, cheese, and yogurt are associated with reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. For example, a recent study on the topic found a strong association between the consumption of yogurt and a decreased risk for developing diabetes. This adds to the growing body of evidence that has been unfolding since the science was reviewed for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which noted moderate evidence indicates that intake of milk, cheese and yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
We are a nation under pressure. According to the Center for Disease Control, 31% of Americans currently have hypertension (otherwise known as high blood pressure), and another 31% are at risk of developing it. Individuals with hypertension are at significantly higher risk of developing a myriad number of chronic diseases.
One way to help lower blood pressure may be adding dairy foods to a nutritious diet. The powerful duo of minerals in milk – calcium and potassium -- have been shown as important in regulating blood pressure in adults. A switch to a balanced diet of low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet has been demonstrated to lower elevated blood pressure.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate evidence shows that consumption of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods (including milk, cheese and yogurt) may help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. And emerging evidence suggests that there may be a beneficial relationship of dairy foods containing higher fat on CVD risk.
So whether you’re still a wee lad (or lady), or already in your latter years, dairy foods provide potential health benefits to help maintain healthy bones, muscle health and even more. They may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, keeping people healthier longer. What are you waiting for? Have you had your dairy today?