As a registered dietitian, I’d like the opportunity to correct misinformation presented in a letter to the editor “The dairy debacle” (Aspen Daily News, Jan. 5). Clearly, the content of that piece is not based on current nutrition science.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate confirm the importance of dairy foods as part of a healthy diet by recommending that Americans 9 years and older consume three daily servings of low-fat or fat free milk and milk products.
These recommendations are supported by many other renowned organizations including, but not limited to, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt together provide a unique nutrient package of calcium plus eight key nutrients. Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, contribute to better bone health, improve overall diet quality and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type-2 diabetes). Promising research suggests that several components of dairy foods may have anti-cancer properties, including vitamin D, sphingolipids and a type of fatty acid known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
While it is often said that you can get your calcium from non-dairy sources, dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt are some of the best sources of calcium. Other foods, such as leafy greens and legumes, may contain calcium, but they also contain other substances that can reduce the amount of calcium available for absorption.
I’d encourage your readers to lean on low-fat and fat-free dairy foods as a reliable and affordable option to not only meet calcium recommendations, but also to reap the benefits of the other nutrients that dairy foods provide.
Jenna Allen, MS RD
Western Dairy Association