In addition to being the best source of calcium, dairy products also contain the vitamin D, potassium, proteins and other and nutrients that are necessary for a healthy body.
Milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soy milk all belong to this food group. With a portion considered to be a cup of any dairy beverage or two ounces of cheese, adults should eat three portions of dairy products a day.
In order to reduce your calorie intake, the recommendation is to include healthy, low-fat and low sodium dairy products on a daily basis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the following suggestions to avoid the excess calories of dairy products:
- Choose non-fat dairy products. These offer the same level of calcium and nutrients without the additional calories or saturated fat. Try slowly making the change from drinking whole milk to low-fat milk, to finally, skim milk.
- Cream, butter and cream cheese are not included in this food group. These foods have nearly no calcium content, and yet are high in fat. Replace butter for olive oil, or cream cheese for ricotta cheese.
- If you are lactose intolerant, some alternatives that will help you get enough calcium include yogurt, lactose-free milk or soy milk.
- If you use milk in your coffee, opt for non-fat or low-fat milk.