Since we were kids we have been told to drink milk for strong bones and teeth. Even today they run commercials reminding parents to get their kids 3 servings a day! What about adults? Or adults with type 2 diabetes? Check out why choosing dairy is great for you!
Calcium builds stronger teeth and bones. It can be found in many foods such as broccoli and spinach. But the easiest way to get it is in dairy products. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are packed with calcium. Getting enough calcium in our daily diet helps protect against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is when the bones weaken, leading to an increased risk of breaks and fractures.
Vitamin D has been a hot topic for many years now. A recent study found that “Patients with type 2 diabetes and painful diabetic neuropathy had significantly lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels compared with healthy volunteers and patients with type 2 diabetes without neuropathy or with painless neuropathy.”2 Vitamin D is important for all people. It is necessary to absorb calcium and increase bone growth.
Dairy and carbohydrates
I am sure that you remember that dairy is one of the food groups that contains carbohydrates. The sugar in milk is a natural form called lactose. Cheese has less sugar as it is mostly made up of fat and therefore lower in carbohydrates. Yogurt has a range of sugar and carbohydrates, since there are often additives such as fruits or regular sugar to give it a sweeter taste. Carefully read your labels to make sure you are choosing a yogurt that fits best within your diet recommendations. Here are the common nutrition facts for each:
Milk: 1 cup (240 mL) contains 12g of carbohydrates.
Consider trying the brand Fairlife® which as been filtered to remove excess sugar and only contains 6g of carbohydrate per 1 cup serving.
Cheese: one cheese stick provides 0 grams of carbohydrates.
Yogurt: one yogurt cup of Chobani® Blueberry on the bottom yogurt provides 18g of carbohydrate. Different options for decreasing carbohydrate intake when eating yogurt are: choosing smaller size yogurts to decrease portion size, opting for plain yogurt to avoid the excess sugar from fruit and adding nuts for a little extra flavor, or choosing yogurts that have been flavored with low-calorie sweeteners.
Many people have difficulty digesting dairy products. If this is the case there are many other options on the shelves. Almond and soy milk are great milk alternatives. Most of them are fortified to provide close to the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as milk. There are also dairy-free options for cheese and yogurt that taste great. Check the nutrition label for sugar and carbohydrate content and try to choose one with a lower amount to help keep your blood glucose under control.
Skim, low fat or whole? Which is best?
The American Diabetes Association recommends skim or 1% milk.1 Although the carbohydrate content does not change, people with diabetes are also encouraged to watch their saturated fat intake. Diets high in saturated fats put us at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Because cardiovascular disease is already a concern for people with diabetes, monitoring saturated fat intake is recommended. Speak with your physician if you have specific questions about how much dairy is right for you!
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