Rosemont, Ill. – June 9, 2009 – Food prices rose by 5.5 percent in the past year, and they're expected to increase up to an additional 4 percent in 2009.(1) As Americans continue to cut costs in the current economic environment, leading nutrition experts fear many will do so at the expense of a nutritious diet. Reliable, affordable sources of nutrients will be more important than ever as a majority of Americans are overweight and many are undernourished.
June is National Dairy Month, a great opportunity for Americans to recognize that low-fat and fat-free dairy foods present a unique combination of both nutritional and economic value. Now is the time to remember the recommendation to get three servings(2) of dairy daily – not only milk, but also cheese and yogurt, since these foods also are valuable and tasty sources of essential nutrients.
Families these days are looking to get the most nutrition they can with their food budget. Dairy is a naturally nutrient-rich food group that, for the most part, comes at a low cost -- often just pennies per serving. One eight-ounce glass of milk provides nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents).
In honor of National Dairy Month, here are some important facts about milk, cheese and yogurt and the family farmers who supply them:
Health Benefits for Life
• Only 30 percent of Americans meet their recommended intake of calcium, and the U.S. Surgeon General’s office predicted that by 2020, half of all Americans older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass.(2) Dairy foods can help close the gap as they supply not only calcium, but also potassium, magnesium and vitamin A, nutrients that most Americans under-consume.(3) Milk is the No.1 source of not only calcium, but also potassium, phosphorus and vitamin D in the American diet.(4)
• Research supports that enjoying three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. At least 45 observational studies exploring dietary intake patterns and body weight report that dairy foods play a beneficial role in healthy weight.(5)
• Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality and may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis,(3,6) hypertension,(7) obesity,(8,9) colon cancer(10) and metabolic syndrome,(11,12) a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
• Research shows the low-fat Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan,(13) which includes two to three servings of dairy foods and eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables, may help manage blood pressure. A trio of minerals—calcium, potassium and magnesium—all found in dairy foods as part of the DASH eating plan may play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Dedication to Children’s Health
• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2003-2004, an estimated 18 percent of American children were overweight and another 35 percent were at risk for becoming overweight.(14) Over the next five years, dairy farmers will invest significantly to help fight childhood obesity in schools by supporting access to naturally nutrient-rich foods, providing nutrition education and encouraging physical fitness.
• The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating nutrient-rich foods each day and encourages more low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains because these can be good sources of nutrients of which most children don’t get enough—fiber, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Together, dairy foods supply three of the five shortfall nutrients—calcium, potassium and magnesium.(2)
Commitment to a Healthy Environment
• It is estimated that the dairy industry accounts for less than 2 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,(15) an amount that the industry continues working to reduce. Dairy foods provide essential nutrients including nearly 75 percent of the calcium naturally available in the food supply,(16) making every glass of milk a good choice for people and the planet.
• Dairy farmers and processors are currently launching 12 initiatives across the dairy supply chain which, when implemented, will reduce carbon dioxide by 3.2 million metric tons — equal to eliminating the emissions generated from using 363 million gallons of gasoline.
• The dairy industry has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 — equivalent to taking more than 1.25 million passenger cars off the road every year.
For more information on the nutritional and economic benefits of dairy and the dairy industry’s commitment to child nutrition and a healthy environment, visit www.NationalDairyCouncil.org.
National Dairy Council® (NDC) is the nutrition research, education and communications arm of Dairy Management Inc™. On behalf of U.S. dairy farmers, NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier society, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media.
Established in 1915, NDC is dedicated to educating the public on the health benefits of consuming milk and milk products throughout a person’s lifespan. For more information, visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org.
1. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Services. “Food CPI and Expenditures” http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/CPIFoodAndExpenditures/ (accessed June 3, 2009)
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2004.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. 6th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January 2005.
4. Rafferty K and Heaney RP, Nutrient effects on the calcium economy: emphasizing the potassium controversy. Journal of Nutrition 2008;138(1):1665-1715.
5. National Dairy Council. “Healthy Weight with Dairy.” http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/HealthandWellness/DairysHealthBenefits/Pages/HealthyWeight.aspx (accessed June 3, 2009).
6. Heaney, R.P. Calcium, “Dairy products, and osteoporosis.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2000;19(suppl): 83s-99s.
7. Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N. Engl. J. Med. 336: 1117-1124, 1997.
8. Heaney RP, Rafferty K. “Preponderance of the evidence: an example from the issue of calcium intake and body composition.” Nutrition Reviews. 2009 Jan;67(1):32-9. Review
9. Mirmiran P, Esmaillzadeh A, Azizi F. “Dairy consumption and body mass index: an inverse relationship.” International Journal of Obesity 2005;29(1):115-21.
10. Huncharek M, Muscat J, Kupelnick B. “Colorectal cancer risk and dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D and dairy products: A meta-analysis of 26,335 cases from 60 observational studies.” Nutrition and Cancer 2009;61:47-69.
11. Pereira MA, Jacobs DR, Van Horn L, Slattery ML, Katashov AI, Ludwig DS. “Dairy consumption, obesity, and the insulin resistance syndrome in young adults: the CARDIA study”. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;287 (16):2081-89.
12. Mensink R. “Dairy products and the risk to develop type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.” International Dairy Journal 2006;16:1001–1004.
13. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure With DASH” http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/index.htm (accessed June 4, 2009)
14. Ogden C, Carroll M, Curtin L, McDowell M, Tabak C, Flegal K. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006; 295:1549-55.
15. Applied Sustainability Center, University of Arkansas. Comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Across U.S. Fluid Milk Value Chain
16. Hiza, HAB, Bente L, Fungwe. (2008) Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 2005. (Home Economics Research Report No. 58). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.