The Dairy Group


So as I mentioned last week, June is Dairy Month so I’m going to be talking about dairy in general all month.

The Dairy Group

What is dairy?

Dairy is actually one of the MyPlate food groups. In Canada’s Food Guide, the group is called Milk and Alternatives.

Either way, all fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group.

Most choices in this group should be fat-free or low-fat.

What counts as dairy?

This group includes foods made from milk that retain their calcium content.

Calcium-fortified soymilk is also part of the Dairy Group.

Calcium fortified coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, orange juice may provide calcium, but may not provide the other nutrients found in dairy products.

Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not part of the Dairy Group.

Why is the Dairy Group important?

Dairy contributes many nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium to the diet.

Moderate evidence shows that intake of dairy is linked to improved bone health.

Moderate evidence also indicates that intake of dairy is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure.

How much dairy should I eat?

3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products are recommended for adults.

Choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy provides the same nutrients with less saturated fat and less calories.

Unfortunately, most people don’t meet the recommendations. The average intake is about 2 cups per day.

For those that do meet recommendations, the majority of intake comes from 2% or whole milk or from higher fat cheese. Not good.

If you are lactose-intolerant, low-lactose and lactose-free milk products are available. Yay!

If you do not consume milk or milk products, you should consume foods that provide the range of nutrients generally obtained from the Dairy Group. These include protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

What counts as a cup of dairy?

Remember, most adults need 3 cups per day.

1 cup =

  • 1 cup of milk or soymilk
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup or 8 ounces of yogurt
  • 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan)
  • 2 slices of cheese –
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
  • 3 slices of processed cheese
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of pudding made with milk
  • 1 cup of frozen yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups of ice cream

Always try to choose fat-free or low-fat (1%). Don’t forget that desserts and higher fat choices add calories too!

Let’s chat: How have you enjoyed dairy this week?
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1 Comment

  1. I know I don’t eat enough dairy. I really don’t like milk! I do eat yogurt (and really like it), but I don’t eat it every day. I also eat some cheese, but not a ton. I do like dark leafy greens. 😉


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