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6 Reasons to Get Your Dairy

Low-fat dairy offers many health benefits

6 Reasons to Get More Dairy continued...

Vitamin D

Many brands of milk are fortified with vitamin D, and now some yogurt manufacturers are joining in. Vitamin D is an important vitamin, yet many of us don't get enough in our diets. Our bodies can actually make vitamin D if we get adequate sunlight, but this can be a problem for people who are housebound or who live in areas that don't get a lot of sun.

Drinking vitamin D-fortified low-fat milk is an easy way to boost your vitamin D. Vitamin D has long been known for promoting healthy bones through its role in calcium absorption. And recent research has indicated that it may be helpful for all sorts of other things, from reducing the risk of certain cancers to lowering blood pressure.

Bone Density

Getting calcium from food, rather than supplements, seems to do your bones good. A study in Finland looked at changes in bone thickness and density in girls 10 years old-12 years old whose diets were supplemented with either cheese, calcium, or calcium plus vitamin D. The cheese-eating group appeared to have bigger increases in bone mass than the other groups.

Blood Pressure

Researchers in Spain who studied more than 5,000 adults found that those who reported consuming the most low-fat dairy (mostly skim and reduced-fat milk) were 54% less likely to develop high blood pressure over a two-year period than those with the lowest intakes of low-fat dairy.

Calcium has been suspected of having an effect on blood pressure in the past. But the Spanish researchers found that only calcium from low-fat dairy products was related to a lower blood-pressure risk. The researchers suggested that this could have something to do with the proteins found in low-fat dairy (caseins and whey), which may have actions similar to those of blood pressure-lowering drugs.

Metabolic syndrome

After studying data from 827 men and women, Iranian researchers concluded that those who consumed the most dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) were less likely to have enlarged waists and metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Weight

In a recent review article, a researcher from the University of Alabama at Birmingham noted that although an analysis of overall calcium consumption has not linked calcium to greater weight loss, there is increasing evidence that calcium from dairy products may play a role in body-weight regulation.

For any or all of the above reasons, aim to work in some low-fat dairy each day, whether it's from skim or 1% low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, reduced-fat cheese, or a combination.

Published January 2006.

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Reviewed on February 02, 2006

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