Food Groups
The milk group includes fluid milk and milk products that have the mineral calcium:

· Milk: regular milk, chocolate milk, and dry milk
· Yogurt: plain, flavored and frozen yogurt
· Cheese: natural and processed cheese
· Desserts: pudding, ice milk, and ice-cream

Nutrition and Health
Milk products are a good source of nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals. They have been shown to promote bone health, heart health, weight management, and some milk products can be considered a functional food.

·  Bone health: the combination of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, fluoride, protein, vitamin K and magnesium in milk products helps to optimize bone health. These nutrients strengthen bones and teeth, and help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

· Heart health: calcium and potassium help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases your risk for heart disease.

· Weight management: three servings of lowfat and fat-free milk products each day may promote weight loss when they replace other calorie containing foods or beverages.

· Functional Food: yogurt contains probiotics, which promote a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal health.

Recommended Intake
Children less than 8 years old need 2 cups of milk products each day, while everyone 8 years and older needs 3 cups per day.  One cup of milk products is equal to:

· 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of milk
· 1 cup (8 ounces) of yogurt
· 1 ½ ounces of cheese, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, 2 slices of cheese

Making Healthy Choices
Lowfat and fat free milk products have less saturated fat and cholesterol, while maintaining the same amount of calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein as regular milk products. Enjoy 1% or skim milk by the glass, and when cooking or baking. Choose lowfat and fat-free yogurts that are plain, or low in added sugars. Choose cheeses that are made from lowfat milk, such as lowfat cottage cheese and part-skim mozzarella.

Tips for Adding More Dairy
· Drink lowfat or skim milk at meals or snacks
· Top soups, salads or sandwiches with reduced fat cheese
· Substitute sour cream with plain, lowfat yogurt in dips
· Add lowfat milk to hot cereals instead of water
· Make a fruit smoothie with 1 cup lowfat yogurt, 1 cup 100% juice, 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit and a handful of ice.
· For dessert, choose pudding made with lowfat or skim milk
· Make a yogurt parfait with yogurt, fruit and lowfat granola
· Visit for milk group recipes

Sample Menus
Getting three servings of milk products is easier than you think. Here are some ways you can add milk products to your favorite meals and snacks:

Day 1


   2 cups cereal, 1 cup skim milk, orange


   Grilled chicken salad with 1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


   Whole wheat pasta, vegetable soup, side salad


   Yogurt parfait with 1 cup yogurt, fruit and lowfat granola


Day 2


   Oatmeal made with ½ cup skim milk, eggs, ½ cup chocolate milk


   Turkey sandwich with 2 slices Swiss cheese


   Salmon, mixed vegetables, whole wheat roll, 1 cup skim milk


   Fruit salad


Day 3


   Whole wheat pancakes, strawberries, 1 cup lowfat yogurt


   Three bean chili, whole wheat crackers, banana


    Chicken tacos with 1/3 cup shredded cheese, rice and beans


   1 cup chocolate pudding made with skim milk

Organic versus Regular Milk

Organic and regular milk provide the same nutritional value, and both are considered healthy, nutritious and safe by the United States Department of Agriculture.  All dairy farmers must meet proper animal care and environmental standards, but organic milk must meet an additional set of criteria.  Milk can be considered organic if it comes from cows that have been exclusively fed organic food, spent time in the pasture and in direct sunlight, were not treated with hormones, and were not given antibiotics or other prohibited medications. Organic milk may cost twice as much as regular milk, and because both are safe and nutritious, organic milk may not be the right choice for some consumers. 

Alternatives to Dairy

Some people choose not to eat dairy foods because of special diets, allergies or lactose intolerance.  If you choose not to consume dairy products, you will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other foods in the diet.  Other options include:

  • Soy or rice milk with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Orange juice with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Tofu with added calcium
  • Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collard greens and bok choy
Calcium supplements: talk to your doctor to find out which supplement is right for you