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Dairy: The Unsung Hero in Your Meals

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Creamy and velvety, yet packed with nutrition.

The variety of nutrients found in milk products plays a role in growth and provides energy. Dairy is particularly important for children’s fast-growing bones and tissues. For adults, dairy also helps reduce bone breakdown associated with osteoporosis.

Milk products provide protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A and potassium. Calcium promotes increased bone density and is needed for muscle contractions. Although not traditionally found in milk, vitamins D and A are added. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Vitamin A supports the immune system, vision and cell growth. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by regulating sodium at the cellular level. Protein aids in growth and maintenance of body tissue. And milk’s 89% water content helps make it essential for proper hydration.



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that 90% of Americans do not meet daily recommendations¹.

Daily recommendations include consuming 3 cups of dairy foods each day for those ages 9 and older. Dairy foods equivalent to 1 cup of milk include:

  • 8 ounces yogurt
  • 3 ounces hard cheese
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt
  • 1½ cups ice cream

As you work toward your daily Dairy Food Group goals, aim for 3 servings a day by changing up the foods you eat.


Here are two of our favorite local partners that provide delicious options for you to meet your needs!



For more than 130 years, Mountain Dairy in Storrs, CT, has delivered high-quality, great-tasting milk to everyone. They use timeless methods to maintain nutrients and great taste. Nothing fancy. Simply delicious milk since the beginning.

Learn More >>
Watch Video >>



Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland, MA, puts love, care and pride into everything they do, from caring for their goats, cows and hens to seasonal harvesting produce. The secret to their best-tasting dairy and produce? Always farming with love.

Learn More >>
Watch Video >>

Enjoy these dairy-packed recipes anytime of day!

¹U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Reviewed 5/8/2023