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What are the benefits of dairy foods in a healthy eating pattern?

Foods in the dairy food group offer a unique package of nutrients.

Foods in the dairy food group offer a unique package of nutrients that work together to provide multiple health benefits, including optimal growth and development in children and reduced risk of chronic disease. These nutrients include calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin and more.

How Many Servings of Dairy Foods Are Recommended? 

Daily Recommendation 
AgeNo. of servings
2–3 years2 cups
4–8 years2 1/2 cups
9+ years3 cups
Pregnant and breastfeeding3 cups

Health Benefits of Dairy Foods

There is a growing body of evidence that links the consumption of milk and dairy foods to a wide range of health benefits, from well-studied associations like controlling blood pressure and improving bone health to newer associations like reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

There are many ways to incorporate milk and dairy foods into a healthy eating pattern. Start the day with a healthy breakfast of cereal, milk and fruit. Include cheese in a salad or sandwich at lunch. Enjoy yogurt for an afternoon snack. 

Find out more about the relationship between a healthy eating pattern, activity and overall health by visiting the Healthy Eating page. For online learning activities, check out the nutrition resources for online learning page.

Why Is Dairy An Important Food Group?

Maria Frye, RDN, discusses why dairy foods are important for health at each life stage and more.

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Functional health benefits of dairy foods

Explore various topics on how dairy foods supports overall health for people of all ages.