Plant based diets have become very popular lately, and why not? Dietitians have been saying for years we should eat more fruits and veggies, right? But does “plant based” mean only eating plants?
Absolutely not. In fact, dairy products and other foods that come from animals are a key component of several healthy eating patterns highlighted in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), including the Healthy Mediterranean pattern and Healthy Vegetarian pattern. These patterns focus not only on choosing fruits, veggies and whole grains, but also encourage complimentary foods like fish, eggs and dairy to provide essential nutrients and variety.
Think of plants + dairy as a power couple! Most Americans lack in potassium, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D in their diets, which can be cause for concern. Dairy foods provide three of these and when paired with plants can make up the fourth! Bringing together the best nutrition, without sacrificing favorite foods.
KIDS NEED CALCIUM
Children need calcium and Vitamin D for growing bones and teeth. Research shows milk is the number 1 food source for them to get it. The best part? All cow’s milk provides the same nine essential nutrients, whether you prefer conventional or organic, whole milk or fat free, and all milk is antibiotic free. Boost intake by making family favorites using milk instead of water for things like scrambled eggs, tomato soup, mashed potatoes and hot chocolate. At $0.25 for an 8oz glass, it’s affordable too.
Milk and other dairy foods also contain high quality protein that support a balanced diet and growing muscles. Milk, cheese and yogurt provide protein power to meals and snacks, filling in the gaps for lower quality protein foods like cereals, fruits and vegetables. Budding athlete in your house? Use milk to hydrate them and get an added benefit of vitamins, minerals and protein to cool off and fill them up!
Dairy foods are a part of a healthy, sustainable diet too. Did you know dairy cows are often referred to as the original recycler, with roughly 70% of what they eat coming from leftover food products humans can’t eat? Things like almond hulls, corn stalks and orange peels that would otherwise make their way to a landfill can all be eaten by cows. Dairy farmers produce more milk, with fewer cows, using less land and water than ever before, all while protecting the health and safety of their cows. You can still feel good about including dairy favorites in family meals, while protecting the planet at the same time.
To learn more about dairy nutrition, sustainability and the new “power couple” check out www.winnersdrinkmilk.com, and feel good about including milk, cheese and yogurt into your plant based diet.