Browse the refrigerated section of your local grocery store and you'll likely find dairy foods dominating the shelves. Now is a good time to brush up on delicious ways to include dairy foods as part of your healthful eating plan.
No matter the fat content, milk is an excellent source of calcium and also provides protein, riboflavin, vitamins A and D, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties. If you’re sensitive to lactose, look for lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk.
Yogurt is another high-calcium, high-protein dairy food. In fact, if you don’t drink much milk, eating yogurt can help you get the calcium you need. Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties with fruit or opt for plain fat-free yogurt and add fresh or canned fruit with no added sugar. Look for yogurt with "live and active cultures" on the label.
Cheese is a great source of the same nutrients found in milk, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin and vitamin B12. However, certain types can be high in sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on labels to compare sodium content. Also, choose low-fat cheeses including low-fat ricotta, part-skim mozzarella, string cheese or varieties of reduced-fat cheese. Buying shredded and sharp-flavored cheeses combined with portion control can help deliver more flavor with less cheese.
Cream, Sour Cream, Spreads
Most creams and spreads such as cream cheese and butter are high in calories and fat and deliver little calcium. For less fat and fewer calories, try low-fat and fat-free varieties of cream cheese and sour cream. From a fat and calorie standpoint, butter and margarine are the same, but butter contains more saturated fat. Look for tub and stick margarines that are trans fat-free, check the label and choose the option that's right for you.