Milk Scores High Over Dairy Alternatives

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Florida Dairy Farmers Dietitian Shares Milk's Natural Health Benefits

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Milk drinkers tend to have better overall quality diets. Without it, it’s much more difficult to get the adequate level of nutrients you need.

With sports season in high gear, it’s fitting to talk about a beverage that reigns over its competitors every time. Hands down, milk, with its nutrient-rich power, outscores substitutes and alternatives.

This household staple is the top food source of three of the four nutrients that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cites both adults and children need more of – vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Drinking milk alternatives may lead to gaps in calcium and other nutrients such as protein, phosphorous and B vitamins. And, in these financially tight times, few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. Milk alternatives such as almond and soy beverages, on the other hand, can be more expensive and often have long lists of added ingredients.

“A lot of people mistakenly believe that milk alternatives are naturally nutrient-rich,” says Alyssa Greenstein, RD, LD/N, senior manager of nutrition affairs at Florida Dairy Farmers. “But milk is the most naturally wholesome, nutritious drink with nine essential nutrients and multiple health benefits. And milk drinkers tend to have better overall quality diets. Without it, it’s much more difficult to get the adequate level of nutrients you need.”

So what about those who are lactose intolerant? First, it’s important to understand whether you are simply lactose sensitive, self-diagnosed or medically diagnosed as lactose intolerant. According to Greenstein, it can be confusing, but there are varying degrees of lactose intolerance and being diagnosed doesn't necessarily equate to “all or nothing” when it comes to dairy. “Hard cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss contain no lactose. Adding cheese or yogurt to your diet, plus choosing lactose-free milk, are easy ways for the lactose sensitive or intolerant to get three servings of dairy every day. Check out the labels, consider incorporating small portions of dairy into your diet, and talk to your doctor or dietitian.”

How to score big with three servings of dairy every day:

  •     Drink milk at mealtimes
  •     Keeping chocolate milk in your fridge at work. It’s a flavorful addition to your morning coffee.
  •     Let kids choose chocolate milk after playtime and practice … it’s a healthier choice than soft drinks to refuel
  •     Keep yogurt or cheese on hand for a healthy snack
  •     Make frozen yogurt squares or smoothies for a later-in-the day or after-dinner treat

For creative recipes and more information on the importance of dairy in your family’s diet, visit

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About Florida Dairy Farmers
Florida Dairy Farmers is Florida’s milk promotion group, working to enhance the image of the dairy farming industry and increase milk and dairy product sales statewide via education and marketing. FDF is one of 18 member organizations of the United Dairy Industry Association and carries out the programs of Dairy Management Inc., the umbrella organization based in Chicago, Ill. For more information, call 407-647-8899 or visit

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Alayna Rivera
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