If you’re thinking about revamping how you eat in the new year, you might want to think twice about the trendy dairy-free plans that crop up on your social media feed because they could leave you missing out on nutrients you need.
Three of the most popular and health-promoting eating plans of the moment—the Mediterranean Diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, also know as the DASH Diet, and Flexitarian Diet—all include dairy milk as an important component, and according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, it’s hard to get nutrients you need without it.
New research also suggests adding an extra serving of dairy to the Mediterranean Diet makes it even more nutritious, boosting amounts of calcium, vitamin D and potassium without exceeding recommendations for nutrients to limit, such as saturated fat and sodium, according to a study published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition. A second new study found not only does incorporating more dairy improve the quality of the diet but also it benefits health, specifically improving blood pressure and levels of good cholesterol compared to a standard low-fat diet, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Although the Mediterranean Diet typically includes around two servings of dairy a day, these studies built in three to four servings.
The DASH Diet, long known for its positive effects on heart health, includes three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy per day. Good news for fans of whole milk: it might be just as effective when it includes full-fat dairy, too, according to recent research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found a DASH Diet that included whole milk and other full-fat dairy products lowered blood pressure just as much as the traditional version.
As a high-quality, complete protein, dairy milk is also an important part of the Flexitarian Diet, which encourages more plants and less meat. Many plant-based proteins are incomplete, which means they don’t provide some of the building blocks your body needs. Dairy milk is also an important source of calcium. Substituting milk with nondairy calcium sources such as fortified soy milk or leafy greens can lead to gaps in other key nutrients such as protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin B-12, according to a study in the journal Nutrition Research.
Instead of eating in a way that could leave you at risk of nutrient deficiencies, opt for a more balanced approach to the new year and consider a plan that includes dairy milk. Visit MilkLife.com for more information and milk-inspired recipes.