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The Milk Group
You are doing a good job in learning more about the importance of nutrition and its relationship to good health. To complete this online lesson, you should….
- Carefully read this lesson. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete
- Set a mini-goal and answer the questions at the end of the lesson
- When you are finished, click “submit”
During the online lesson about the MyPyramid you learned about healthy eating using MyPyramid as your guide. You learned which foods to eat and how much of these foods you need to eat every day. This lesson will take a closer look at the milk group.
- The milk group includes dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt.
- Foods from the milk group are rich in calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals to help build strong bones and teeth.
- Choose foods from the milk group that are fat-free or low-fat, such as 1% or skim milk, low-fat or fat-free cheese and fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
- Lactose free milk is an option for those who are lactose intolerant.
How much do you need to eat?
The exact amount of foods from the milk group you need to eat depends on your age, gender, and how much physical activity you get each day. Children over the age of 8 and adults should aim for 3 cups of milk or foods that are equal to one cup of milk each day. Children 8 years and younger need 2 cups of milk or foods that are equal to one cup of milk every day. Are you reaching this goal every day?
What counts as 1 cup of milk?
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup yogurt (8 ounces)
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (without water added)
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan)
- 2 ounces American cheese (about 3 slices)
- 1 cup pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk
- 1 cup frozen yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat ice cream (about 3 scoops). Ice cream should be chosen less often. It is higher in fat and fits in the top of the milk group portion of MyPyramid. Chose options such as skim or low fat milk more often.
Do you remember why this is important?
- Foods from the milk group are rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins and minerals to help build strong bones and teeth.
- Eating dairy foods can lower your risk of developing a disease called osteoporosis that occurs when bones become weak and break easily.
- Calcium keeps your nervous system, heart, and muscles healthy. Calcium may also help lower your blood pressure.
- Calcium from low-fat or fat-free dairy products may help you reach or maintain a healthy weight.
- The intake of milk foods is especially important to bone health during childhood and the teenage years, when bones are being built.
Bone health is important no matter how old you are! Eating calcium rich foods and doing weight-bearing physical activity, such as walking, jumping rope, volleyball, basketball, and lifting weights, are important for keeping bones strong!
Tips for making wise choices from the milk group!
Drink milk at meals. Most of the time try to choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, such as 1% or skim milk and low-fat or fat free cheese and yogurt.
- If you usually drink whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat milk. Begin by trying reduced fat milk (2%), then low-fat milk (1%), and finally fat-free (skim) milk.
- Use fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to make hot cereals, such as oatmeal.
- Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making condensed cream soups, such as cream of tomato.
- Have fat-free or low-fat yogurt as a snack.
- Make a dip for fruits or vegetables using low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
- Make fruit and yogurt smoothies in the blender.
- For dessert make pudding with 1% or skim milk.
- Top cut-up fruit with flavored yogurt for a quick dessert.
- Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded low-fat cheese.
- Top a baked potato with plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
- Add non-fat dry milk powder to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Tips for buying milk, cheese and yogurt
- Buy cheese in bulk and freeze in ½ pound pieces or less. Wrap the pieces in plastic wrap, put in plastic baggies, label with the date, and freeze. Use frozen cheese within 4 to 6 months.
- Some brands of yogurt have more sugar than others do. Look at the Nutrition Facts panel on the food label of different brands of yogurt. Choose the yogurt with the least amount of sugar per serving.
- Reading labels at the grocery store helps you make healthy food choices. A lot of information is on the nutrition label. Important things to look for are the fat, salt and sugar content. You can also compare amounts of nutrients like fiber, iron and calcium. Look at the %Daily Value (%DV) for calcium on food packages so you know how much one serving contributes to the total amount you need per day. The label only lists a %DV for calcium. To convert, add a zero to get the amount of calcium in mg. Example: 30% DV means 300 mg of calcium and 100% DV means 1,000 mg of calcium.
Daily Calcium Needs
|Children 1 to 3 years||500mg|
|Children 4 to 8 years||800mg|
|Teenagers 9 to 18 years||1300mg|
|Adults 19 to 50 years||1000mg|
|Adults 51+ years||1200mg|
|Pregnant 14 to 18 years||1300mg|
|Pregnant 19 to 50 years||1000mg|
- Check the “sell by” dates on milk and yogurt. If milk has been kept cold (40º F or below), it will usually stay fresh for 2 or 3 days after the “sell by” date. If yogurt has been kept cold, it will usually stay fresh for up to a week after the “sell by” date.
- If milk is on sale or you only grocery shop once or twice a month, consider freezing milk. Milk may be frozen for as long as 3 months if frozen prior to the “best before” date. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator. The milk will still have the same nutrients, but it may separate. If it does, shake well.
Tips to boost calcium intake if you cannot or do not like to eat dairy foods!
- Choose a lactose-free alternative within the milk group such as lactose-free milk or soy milk.
- Consume the enzyme lactase before eating or drinking milk products. Lactase enzymes, such as Lactaid, come in pill form and can be bought at most grocery and drug stores.
- Choose calcium-fortified juices, breads, cereals, soy and/or rice milk.
- Choose other foods that contain calcium such as sardines, dried beans, broccoli, and some leafy green vegetables such as kale, bok choy, spinach, collard and turnip greens.
- Try eating dairy in small amounts.
- Try eating dairy foods in combination with other foods instead of on an empty stomach. For example drink a glass of milk with a sandwich.
Keep it safe to eat
- Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk. Check the product label for the word pasteurized or unpasteurized.
- Refrigerate foods that may spoil easily, like milk, cheese and yogurt, as soon as possible.
- Cool foods properly by refrigerating or freezing leftovers as soon as possible. If food has been at room tempurature for more than two hours, throw it away, even though it may look and smell good.
- Separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
- Consider using a refrigerator thermometer to keep your refrigerator at 40° F or lower. This will let you know if your food is being kept at an unsafe temperature.