New “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” renewed every five years and due out in December, is mostly good news for dairy. The guidelines are the basis for school nutrition, WIC and other government feeding programs. They also drive a lot of food advertising as marketers try to gain an edge for their particular products.
For the first time, the guidelines will say individuals with low food intakes of dairy are at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and bone disease, says Greg Miller, president of the Dairy Research Institute funded by Dairy Management, Inc. “That’s huge,” says Miller. “The guidelines will finally turn around the dogma on dairy that it’s bad for heart health. It’s not.”
Miller sat down with Dairy Today Wednesday afternoon here at World Dairy Expo. “The research work that the dairy industry has funded over the years on heart health, diabetes and bone health is finally having an impact. DMI has invested a lot of dollars in research that is driving those changes,” he says.
The Guidelines, which are published by USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, will also continue to support dairy as a food group and three servings of dairy per day for children 9 years old through adulthood. In fact, the guidelines will go so far as to encourage dairy consumption for children because that consumption drives their eating patterns as adults.
On the negative side, the guidelines will encourage consumers to lower their intake of sodium, saturated fat and added sugar. The problem, says Miller, is that “nutrient avoidance has been tried for 30 years and has only gotten us as a population undernourished and overweight. Nutrient avoidance does more harm than good.”
Nevertheless, Americans will be told to lower their intakes—particularly sodium. All cheeses have sodium, with levels varying among types, brands and within brands. Research is underway to standardize and lower sodium levels, but like low-fat cheeses, it can be a difficult process.
Added sugar is problematic in flavored milks, particularly those offered in schools. Even though research shows kids who drink flavored milk consume no more total sugar than kids who don’t, some school districts want to remove flavored milk from their offering. What they’re forgetting is the rest of the nutrient package that milk offers.