Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Got Dairy? It's Good for You!

As a dairy producer, consumer and mom I like to stay current on food trends and how dairy products fit in. Some recent trends receiving attention include. . . .

Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is an important part of a healthy diet because it helps control calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, and it plays a role in cell growth, immunity and reducing inflammation. The National Center for Health Statistics says more than one-third of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and other research suggests that figure could be as high as 50%. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D. Dairy is also a great source.

We Eat More
Over the past 30 years, average daily calorie intake increased from 1,803 in 1977-78 to 2,374 in 2003-2006. With a third of U.S. adults now classified as obese, the findings suggest efforts to prevent obesity should focus on reducing food intake; decreasing the number of meals and snacks people consume daily and reducing portion size. Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Body Weight Issues
Seventy percent of Americans are now considered overweight or obese and type 2 diabetes is on the rise. Dairy has proven effective in weight management and decreasing risk for diabetes. Research continues to show a relationship between milk intake and successful weight loss and improved body composition. Higher dairy intakes are linked to lower risk of diabetes in both adolescents and adults. Adolescent girls who consume diets rich in low-fat milk products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains have an easier time maintaining a stable weight throughout early adulthood. Good milk-drinking habits are generally linked to better nutrient intakes in childhood, as well as later in life.

Local Foods
Consumer research shows people are interested in local, fresh, and high-quality foods. They are interested in learning about the food they eat; its history, who produced it, what makes it unique, and what they can do with it. Dairy fits well with this trend as there are numerous dairy products produced near consumers such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Reformulation of Food Products
Consumers are demanding healthier products with a focus on reducing calories, sugar, sodium and fat. The dairy industry is responding to this trend making significant progress towards reducing sodium in certain cheese by up to 25% without sacrificing flavor and reducing sugar in flavored milks.

Consumers are looking for tasty, convenient, inexpensive and healthy products. There is a focus on purchasing quick and easy snacks, pre-prepared foods, and meals that can be assembled at home. Dairy offers easy, kid-friendly healthy snack foods such as yogurt tubes, cheese sticks and smoothie mixes. Products like pre-sliced or shredded cheese make it easy to add delicious dairy to your meal. I look for more product and packaging innovation from dairy processors in this area.

There are many positive attributes of dairy. Research supports disease prevention and health promotion from vitamin D, calcium, protein, probiotics, whey and the overall package of nutrients that milk provides. I hope you'll join me in consuming dairy daily!

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