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Have your Cheese and Eat it, Too. Just Not Too Much.


Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently made headlines because he eliminated dairy from his diet. This is hard for many of us Wisconsinites to understand. Is a life without cheese even worth living?

The truth is, in the dairyland, we sometimes get carried away with our dairy consumption. Did you know if you are headed to a Timber Rattlers game in Appleton, you can order a cheeseburger with a grilled cheese sandwich as its bun? At Lambeau Field,  you can order a kielbasa sausage smothered in beer cheese. This is as Wisconsin as it gets.

The Right Amount of Dairy

Dairy is an important part of a well-rounded diet, but there are good and bad ways of incorporating the calcium-packed food group in your meals. The first thing to be sure of is that you are getting the right amount of dairy. The amount of dairy you should eat daily depends on your age.

  • Children 1 – 3 years old – 2 cups per day
  • Children 4 – 8 years old – 2.5 cups per day
  • Children 9 – 17 years old – 3 cups per day
  • Adults 18 and older – 3 cups per day

The Right Kinds of Dairy

It’s also important to make sure you are choosing to consume the right kinds of dairy products. Make sure the bulk of your dairy choices are fat-free or low-fat. Foods that are made from milk and retain their calcium content are considered part of the dairy food group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream and butter, are not considered part of the dairy food group. Following are some specific dairy options that are good choices.

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Frozen yogurt (low-fat or fat-free)
  • Ice cream (low-fat or fat-free)
  • Hard cheese
  • Shredded cheese
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Calcium-fortified soymilk

The Many Benefits of Dairy

Adding the right amount of good dairy to your diet can improve your health in many ways. There are calcium supplements on the market, but some studies have shown that getting calcium from your food has proven to do more for bone density.

Calcium has also shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure. Researchers have attributed the lowered blood pressure risk in individuals who consume high amounts of low-fat dairy to the caseins and whey found in the food. They have similar effects as drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure.

Dairy has also shown to help regulate weight. While it hasn’t been linked to greater weight loss, it can help you to maintain a healthy weight when part of a healthy diet.

Consuming 55g of cheese a day can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 12 percent. This could be attributed to the probiotic bacteria that can lower cholesterol and generate vitamins that protect against diabetes.

A diet containing dairy could also help you sleep at night. A protein present in milk has shown to improve sleep quality and levels of alertness the next day.

Even though Aaron Rodgers gave up dairy, you don’t have to. Consuming the right amount of healthy dairy products is an important part of a well-rounded diet. Start incorporating low-fat and fat-free dairy products in your meals each day to enjoy better health.


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