Did you know that June is National Dairy Month?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the dairy farmers for their commitment to deliver fresh, wholesome nutrition to dairy lovers all over the United States using sustainable farming practices. I have partnered with National Dairy Council to share with you today’s caliente topic: How dairy can help you eat more plants with 5 delicious snacks following a plant-based, dairy-enhanced diet.
Let’s start by defining what is a plant-based diet? Is it vegan or vegetarian diet? Do you need to cut out completely meat and animal products to be plant-based? There is not a scientific definition of plant-based diet. I look at it as eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – these are plants and Americans don’t eat the daily recommended amounts of them! What else do Americans not meet the daily need for? Dairy foods… Currently about 9 out of 10 Americans don’t eat the recommended daily dairy recommendations either. I am not a vegetarian or vegan but in my opinion as a RD, I consider myself to follow a plant-based diet. Some people may call this plant-forward or even just trying to eat more fruits and veggies.
A plant-based diet is something I fully endorse because it is a nutritious way to get vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from all 5 food groups, because they all provide unique nutrients. However, if not careful and mistakenly thinking that in order to be plant-based you must cut out completely all meat and animal products then you could put yourself at risk from not getting enough protein, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3s and iron.
Dairy foods can help make plant-packed snacks or plates even better by adding nutrients, flavor, texture and satisfaction. Dairy’s nutrients from milk, cheese and yogurt such as high-quality protein, calcium and vitamin B12 – can help enhance your plant-based diet. The calcium is often absorbed better than from some plant sources like spinach. And the protein is high-quality and contains all essential amino acids compared to most plant proteins. Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products like in dairy.
Based on my 20 years of experience helping people with their nutrition, I recommend adding protein during the 3-4 pm snack to avoid over eating during dinner time. Due to the high quality and content of protein in dairy products your plant-based dishes can help you feel fuller longer.
As you can see adding dairy can help support a plant-based diet, especially with nutrients like high quality protein, vitamin B12 and calcium.
For additional information and more about how to use dairy in your recipes go to USDairy.com