Dairy Foods (Lesson 3)

Milk is an important part of your diet.

The Food Guide Pyramid

Lab Activity

Take two cooked chicken or turkey bones, clean and dry. Place one bone in a cup of water and the other in a cup of vinegar for two to three days. Come back after two or three days and compare the bones. What will you find? The acid in the vinegar will take calcium out of the bone, making it bend. You will easily see the difference between dense and porous bones. If your diet is calcium deficient over a long period, bone mass progressively decreases. Consuming products made with vinegar does not have this effect on people.

In this lesson, you will learn why everyone needs milk and milk products in their diet, how to choose among the different types of milk and how to deal with lactose intolerance.

Dietary Calcium

Calcium is the mineral your body uses to build bones and teeth. In two or three days, take a look at the bones you put in vinegar and water. See what happens when calcium is removed from bones. If you don't get enough calcium when you are young, you could suffer from osteoporosis when you get older. This is a painful disease where bones become brittle and break easily. Calcium also may protect you against colon and breast cancer and help regulate blood pressure.

Now that you know how important calcium is, who would you say needs calcium? That's right. Everybody needs calcium; however, some of us need more calcium than others. How much calcium do you need every day ?

  • Children 1 to 3 need 700 milligrams of calcium
  • Children 4 to 8 need 1,000 milligrams
  • Youth 9 to 18 need 1,300 milligrams
  • Adults 19-50 need 1,000 milligrams
  • Adults 51 and older need 1,000 milligrams for males and 1,200 milligrams for females
  • Pregnant or nursing teens up to age 18 need 1,300 milligrams
  • Pregnant or nursing women 19 and older need 1,000 milligrams

One cup (8 ounces) of milk has about 300 milligrams of calcium.

Figure out how many glasses it would take to give you the calcium you need each day.

Most of us don't get enough calcium. This is especially true of teenagers. Calcium is critical in teenage years because bones are growing rapidly.

The amount of food from the Dairy Group you need depends on your age. The 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends 3 cups of milk daily or the equivalent for adults 19 years and older. Now if we do a little math, three eight-ounce glasses of milk will give about 900 milligrams of calcium. So, if you need 1200 milligrams, where do you get the rest? Eating a well-balanced diet that includes all of the food groups in MyPlate should provide the rest of the calcium you need.

One way to increase absorption of calcium is to get enough vitamin D. The best source is sunlight and milk fortified with vitamin D. All milk sold in

Louisiana is fortified with vitamin D. Exercise also helps a person to use calcium.

Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, calcium-fortified soy milk and foods made with milk (ice cream, pudding, frozen yogurt, cottage cheese) are the best sources of calcium. Good non-dairy sources include sardines and other fish canned with the bones, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, shellfish and orange juice with calcium added. And don't forget foods made with milk and milk products like macaroni and cheese, cream soups, custards, cheese pizza and tacos, to name a few.

It's easy to get calcium without getting extra fat. Just learn to read the labels and select low fat or nonfat products. In fact, skim and 1% milks have more calcium than regular milk without the fat. The label tells the story.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is when you cannot digest the lactose in milk. Lactose, the sugar in milk, is broken down by the enzyme lactase. Some people have low levels of lactase, which means that all of the lactose is not broken down. If you have trouble drinking milk because of bloating and gas, you probably have lactose intolerance. That means you don't have the lactase enzyme needed to digest the lactose (sugar) in milk. Choose lactose-reduced milk, acidophilus milk (not available in all areas), lact-aid tablets or drops or fermented dairy products such as buttermilk, yogurt or simply try drinking smaller amounts of milk at a time. People of African or Asian descent are more likely to suffer from lactose intolerance. Also, as people get older, the amount of lactase in their digestive tracts decreases and they may also become lactose intolerant.

Should lactose intolerant individuals quit drinking milk? It depends. It is important to remember that there are different degrees of lactose intolerance. Most of these people can have a normal serving of milk without symptoms, especially if taken with meals.

Here are a few other tips for lactose intolerant individuals....

  • Look for lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk.
  • Buy lactase enzyme tablets or drops from the drugstore or supermarket. There are several brand names such as Lactaid or Dairy Eaze. This enzyme digests the lactose and prevents cramping. Buy acidophilus milk.
  • Try drinking only small amounts of milk with meals.
  • Use cultured dairy products such as yogurt and buttermilk.
  • Prepare dishes that include milk and other dairy products.

Types of Milk
There are many different types of milk. Learn to read the labels and choose the ones that best fits your needs, taste and budget. In the refrigerator case you will find many types of fluid milk from skim milk to whole milk. All have essentially the same nutrients. All you lose going from whole to skim is the fat and calories.

Whole milk has 3.25% fat by weight. That means that 1 cup (8 ounces) has 8 grams of fat and 150 calories. Vitamin D is added to whole milk.

Reduced-fat or 2% milk has at least 25% less fat than whole milk. One cup (8 ounces) of reduced- fat or 2% milk has 5 grams of fat and 120 calories. Vitamins A and D are added to reduced- fat or 2% milk.

Low-fat milk may have 0.5% or 1% fat by weight. To be labeled low-fat milk, it cannot have more than 3 grams of fat per 8-ounce cup. Vitamins A and D are added to low-fat milk. Skim or non-fat milk has most of the fat removed. It has less than 0.5% milk fat by weight. Vitamins A and D are added. It has all the nutrients of whole milk without the fat and calories. Most have non-fat milk solids added to improve texture. Skim or nonfat milk has 0 grams of fat in an 8-ounce cup.

Lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk is milk in which part or all of the lactose has been removed. It is great for individuals who are lactose intolerant and cannot digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk can be skim, low-fat, 2% or whole milk. Read the label.

Nonfat Dry Milk is skim milk from which all of the water has been removed. Follow package directions to reconstitute with water. Usually 1/3 cup of dry milk plus 2/3 cup of water makes 1 cup of milk. Reconstituted nonfat dry milk can be used for drinking or cooking.

Evaporated Milk is canned milk in which half the water has been removed. You can buy regular evaporated milk or skimmed evaporated milk. Again, read the label. It can be reconstituted by adding an equal amount of water and used in replace of fluid milk in recipes.

Condensed Milk is canned milk that has about 60% of the water removed and sugar added. Use it only in recipes calling for condensed milk.

Stretching Milk Dollars

You can stretch your milk dollars by choosing:

  • Large containers, they cost less per serving.
  • Store brands, usually less expensive.
  • Non-fat dry milk (reconstituted, it is ready for drinking). You may like the taste better if you mix half reconstituted dry milk with half fluid milk. Nonfat dry milk is also great to use in cooking.
  • Evaporated milk. It can be reconstituted by adding an equal amount of water and used in place of fluid milk in recipes. Don't confuse evaporated milk with condensed milk. Condensed milk has about 60% of the water removed and sugar added. Use it only in recipes calling for condensed milk.

Pull Date

Have you ever noticed the date on milk cartons? It's called a pull date. It's the last day the milk can be sold. It doesn't mean you can't drink it after that date. In fact, if you handle milk properly, it should last for several days past the pull date. You will know when milk has gone bad. It will taste sour. Even then it won't hurt you. You can use it in recipes calling for buttermilk.

Storing Milk

Fresh fluid milk, milk products, opened canned milk and reconstituted dry milk should be kept refrigerated, in clean covered containers. It's easy when you remember the three C's...Clean, Cold and Covered. This will help it to stay fresh a long time. Store non-fat dry milk powder in a tightly covered container, in a cool dry place.


  • Adults 19-50 need 3 cups of milk (or milk products) every day (based on age).
  • Milk and milk products are our best sources of dietary calcium.
  • Choose 1% or skim milk. It has all the nutrients of whole milk without the fat and calories.
  • There are special products such as lactose-reduced milk and lactaid tablets for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • Buy store brands in large containers to save money. You may also try non-fat dry milk and evaporated milk.
  • Keep milk clean, cold and covered.

Web Resources

  1. Southeastern Dairy Association


Plan a day's meals that provide an adequate number of cups of milk for each member of the family. Include other foods high in calcium.

2/6/2017 4:00:41 PM
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