Is real dairy good for you?

Have you checked out the dairy section of your supermarket lately? 

The choices go way beyond skim, 2 percent and whole milk. Now cow’s milk shares the shelf with almond, oat, rice, pea, coconut, cashew, and sesame milks—and we might be missing a few! 

Some people prefer the taste of cow’s milk, while others think plant milk is healthier. 

But as Consumer Reports explains, it’s important not to overlook the health benefits of real dairy.

Milk was once a staple of the American diet, and the dairy industry encouraged us to sip it at every meal. But is dairy for everyone?

There are pros and cons to having dairy in your diet. Real dairy has a lot going for it because it’s high in calcium, protein, and potassium. 

But it’s also high in saturated fat, and some people can’t tolerate it.

Not all fats are created equal. Increasingly, studies have found that eating moderate amounts of full-fat dairy doesn’t raise your risk of heart disease or stroke, and it may be beneficial. 

Drinking milk is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. 

It can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

But if cow’s milk just isn’t your thing, yogurt is a great pick because it’s packed with healthy probiotic bacteria.

Plain yogurt is best, with a little fruit, honey, or maple syrup for sweetness. 

But be wary of flavored yogurts, which can be high in added sugars. That can offset the health benefits.

CR’s nutrition experts say to choose a yogurt with 6 grams or less of added sugars. 

A daily serving of yogurt and one of cheese is enough for general health. And some cheeses, such as cheddar and mozzarella, have probiotics, too.

CR adds that if you want to enjoy plant milks, watch for "original" or "plain" in their name. 

Those versions often contain added sugars, as do flavored plant milks, so look for "unsweetened" on the label.

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