BLOG: Even though Dairy Month is winding down, summer is heating up, which means dairy foods may actually play an even larger role in keeping your family healthy. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products should be summertime staples as they provide potassium, an essential and often underscored nutrient.
Potassium, a mineral, is an electrolyte needed to keep all cells and body organs working properly. In fact, potassium works in contrast with sodium to regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease. The typical American diet, high in salt, actually increases the body’s need for potassium. Potassium is also responsible for controlling muscle contractions and when consumed with calcium plays a role in osteoporosis prevention.
Potassium is readily available in fruits and vegetables, however few Americans consume the recommended 4,700mg per day. And warm weather increases this recommendation because sweating easily depletes potassium stores. According to Dr. Keith Thomas Ayoob of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “It is nearly impossible to meet the potassium recommendation without three servings of dairy.”
After a day in the sun, consider rehydrating with a cold glass of Stewart’s low-fat milk. One cup has over 360mg of potassium. Milk and other dairy products are also lower in sugar than many traditional sport drinks that can provide over 50g in just one bottle. Additionally, Stewart’s milk is fortified with non-fat milk solids that can increase the protein, potassium, and calcium content of your milk. Stewart’s milk is also guaranteed fresh (within 48 hours from farm to store!) and therefore you do not need to worry about nutrient loss from shipping and storage time.
Dairy intake is important year-round for its ability to help Americans consume enough potassium, calcium, and Vitamin D. During the summer months, dairy becomes even more critical as dehydration can eliminate stores, causing muscles cramping, heart abnormalities and impaired bone health. It is no wonder Dairy Month coincides with the start of the summer solstice, but it is our job to make sure we continue to celebrate dairy… at least three times everyday!
-Christine Sloat MS, RD, CDN
Christine Sloat is a Registered Dietitian and life-long resident of upstate New York.
She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware, and a Master’s of Science in Applied Nutrition from The Sage Colleges in Troy. She has a nutrition consulting business, Nutritious Notions LLC.