Have you heard the latest update on preventing high blood pressure? Eat two to four servings of calcium-rich dairy products each day. What an appropriate topic to address since May is National High Blood Pressure Month and June is Dairy Month.
For years, expert advice for reducing the risk of blood pressure was to lose weight if overweight, exercise regularly, reduce sodium intake, limit alcohol consumption, and refrain from smoking. Now, health experts also advocate that all adults meet the recommended dietary allowances for calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It appears that these three nutrients all found in dairy foods aid in the process of relaxing and dilating blood vessels.
Calcium for Life
Apparently, many Americans are not getting enough calcium. The consumption of calcium-rich foods generally falls short of recommendations especially among African Americans, southeast Asians, adult females, pregnant females, males ages 50 and older, and children ages 9-19 years. In relation to the prevention of high blood pressure, this is bad news. Studies have shown that some calcium-deficient individuals, diabetics, alcoholics, and salt-sensitive individuals benefit from increased calcium intake to help control blood pressure.
Quick and Easy Tips to Get Milk
Experts recommend that you should take three weeks to slowly increase your calcium intake in meals. Below are 21 tips to try, one for each day of the week. Each suggestion contains about 300 milligrams of calcium (the same amount as in a cup of milk). Ultimate daily calcium goals are 500 mg for children one-three year of age, 800 mg for children ages four-eight, and 1,300 mg for adolescents (nine to 18 years). Goals are 1,000 mg for adults ages 19 to 50 years, and 1,200 mg for adults 50 years and older.
Week One--Milk in the Morning
- Add 1/2 cup of milk to your cereal and drink a 1/2 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice.
- Make a breakfast parfait: layer crunchy granola, yogurt and fruit (such as strawberries) in a tall cup.
- Cook oatmeal in milk (instead of water), or add 1 cup of powdered milk to cooking water and serve with milk.
- Melt a couple of slices of cheese on toast.
- Combine milk, yogurt, and fruit to make a breakfast shake.
- Microwave cocoa made with milk.
- Order your fast food breakfast sandwich with cheese.
Week Two--Milk in the Mid-Day
- Eat tomato soup made with milk (1 cup) along with cheese toast.
- For a quick lunch, open a can of sardines (2 1/2 ounces) to eat with crackers.
- Drink a cup of low-fat chocolate milk with your sandwich.
- Make a pimento cheese sandwich.
- Eat a small chefs salad (1 cup) with quiche (1/8 pie).
- Enjoy a cheese enchilada.
- Make pudding (1 cup) for dessert.
Week Three--Milk at Dinner
- Eat a couple of slices of cheese pizza (1/4 of 14pizza).
- Add 3/4 cup homemade macaroni and cheese to your meal.
- Spoon cheese sauce over broccoli.
- Make lasagna.
- Serve turnip greens (1 cup) with salmon croquettes.
- Add powdered milk to meatloaf and creamed potatoes.
- Enjoy angel food cake topped with fruit yogurt.
What about those who cant drink milk?
Some people choose not to drink milk due to personal preferences, religious reasons, or because they are Vegan vegetarians who do not eat any type of animal products . Others cannot drink milk due to allergic responses to milk protein, or lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body doesnt produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest the major sugar (lactose) that is found in milk.
People who prefer not to drink milk and/or who have trouble digesting milk can still consume some dairy products. People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate yogurt, cheese, and buttermilk because there is very little lactose in these products. Limiting dairy intake and using special products to aid the digesting on lactose (several over-the-counter products are available) can help alleviate the symptoms.
Individuals who, because of allergic responses or other reasons, do not consume any dairy products can obtain their calcium from other sources. For example, soymilk, tofu, sardines, salmon, almonds, turnip greens, broccoli, and fortified juices and breads are all good sources of calcium. And, if necessary, they can get their calcium from dietary supplements which include both calcium and vitamin D (which allows the body to absorb and use the calcium). Just remember to consult your physician before consuming any over-the-counter supplements.
Milk in the morning, milk in the afternoon, milk in the evening...milk matters!
Burgin Fowlkes, RD,LD, Senior Nutrition Educator, Health Promotion and Communications, Jefferson County Alabama Dept. of Health
The National Dairy Council website offers many facts and access to resources that are available. This website has a link to the American Dairy Associations webpage where the Cowlender can be ordered: www.nationaldairycouncil.com
For information on how to use cheese in the diet, visit: www.ilovecheese.com