Dairy products are rich in calcium and other minerals and vitamins, helping to build and maintain strong bones and teeth and a healthy body. Dairy is also a good source of protein, so make sure everyone in your family gets the delicious health benefits they deserve.
Nutrition to Grow On
The rate of fractures among children has risen alarmingly over the past 30 years, according to Mayo Clinic research. Poor nutrition—particularly the lack of enough calcium and other bone-building nutrients—is one reason.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that soda consumption tripled among school-age girls, while milk intake dropped 25 percent over 10 years. Less calcium, protein, vitamin D, and fewer other nutrients mean weaker bones and immune systems, while more soda results in higher body mass index for children.
Like milk, cheese is rich in calcium and other important nutrients, including vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin), B12, phosphorus, and zinc. Cheese is also a high-quality source of readily digestible protein. These nutrients don’t just help kids grow strong bones; they are essential for health at every age.
Getting Enough Dairy?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that approximately 55 percent of men and a whopping 78 percent of women over the age of 20 do not meet their recommended daily intake of calcium. The Food Guide Pyramid recommends that everyone older than two years should eat two to three servings of dairy products every day. One serving of cheese is equal to 1.5 ounces of natural cheese (such as Colby) or 2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American).
Consider organic dairy products. They're produced without growth hormones, antibiotics, or synthetic pesticides. Happy, healthy cows and the farms where they live must meet strict federal requirements to be labeled organic. “Also, organic cheese cannot use any GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” says Theresa Marquez, chief marketing executive at Organic Valley. “No preservatives or artificial colorings are allowed,” she adds.
Cheese Counts for Nutrition
An inexpensive source of protein, cheese is rich in nutrients and flavor.
Cheese (2 oz)
Cheddar (low fat)
B2, B3, B12, phosphorus
B12, calcium, phosphorus
A, B12, calcium, phosphorus
Ricotta (part skim)