MyPlate: Different Types of Dairy

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MyPlate is a fun tool used to identify the five food groups we should try to include in each of our meals. The point of MyPlate is to assist with making healthy lifestyle changes or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The five food groups featured on MyPlate are vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and diary. In past weeks we have discussed fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins, this article will feature the different types of dairy and the importance of choosing lean and low-fat dairy products.

The dairy group is made up of fluid milk products and many foods made from milk. An example of a non-milk product that is part of the dairy group is calcium-fortified soymilk or soy beverage. Foods that retain their calcium content are considered part of the dairy group. An example of foods that would be excluded from the dairy group are cream cheese, butter, and cream.

One major health benefit of dairy products is improved bone health. Dairy products contain a high amount of calcium which can contribute to building bones and teeth in babies and children and maintaining bone mass in adults. Dairy products also are rich in vitamin D, potassium, and protein. When choosing dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. we should look for low-fat and non-fat items. As mentioned in the previous lesson, saturated fats are found in animal products and this type of fat can have negative impacts on our hearts (FDA Saturated Fat Fact Sheet).

Low- fat and non-fat dairy products reduce the amount of saturated fat without reducing the number and amount of vitamins and minerals.
f you are currently drinking or using whole milk try gradually changing to reduced-fat milk (also known as 2%), low-fat milk (also known as 1%), and then non-fat milk (also known as skim). Another way to gradually change would be switching to low-fat yogurt or asking for low-fat or skim milk in coffee beverages.

Tips for Including More Low-Fat or Non-Fat Dairy into Your Diet

  1. Use a blender to make smoothies using low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
  2. Make dips for fruits and vegetables using low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
  3. Top casseroles, soups, vegetables, and other foods at mealtime with reduced-fat or low-fat shredded cheese.
  4. Eat low-fat or non-fat yogurt with added fruit as a snack or even for breakfast and dessert. Some flavored yogurts can have a lot of added sugar.
  5. Add non-fat or low-fat milk to oatmeal instead of using water.
  6. When enjoying cereal use low-fat or non-fat milk.
  7. Serve a glass of non-fat milk or calcium-fortified soy milk with meals.

Fruit Parfait


  • ½ cup of low-fat Greek or plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup of your choice of fruit (for example blueberries and strawberries)
  • ¼ cup of whole grain cereal (for example could be whole grain Chex)
  • Dash of vanilla (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)


  1. Add optional dash of cinnamon or vanilla to yogurt.
  2. Top yogurt with fruit and cereal.

Nutrition Facts: 125 calories, 2g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 22g carbohydrates, 130 mg sodium, 1g dietary fiber, 14g sugar, 6g protein. 

This recipe is from the Steps to Health adult program, Take Control.