Consuming a balanced diet, such as the food groups represented on MyPlate, is key to improving health disparities. Despite the best of intentions, however, the dietary guidelines can be culturally challenging, particularly when it comes to dairy consumption. Many African and Hispanic Americans avoid milk and dairy products—key contributors of three shortfall nutrients (calcium, potassium and vitamin D)—because many people in these populations believe they are lactose intolerant. However, avoiding dairy can have significant health effects. An emerging body of evidence suggests that yogurt and other dairy products may help support reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes—conditions that disproportionately impact people of color. For this reason, the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association issued a joint consensus statement recommending African Americans consume three to four servings of low-fat dairy every day. Cultured dairy products could play an important role in addressing these recommendations. Because of the presence of lactase-producing cultures, yogurt is often a more easily digestible alternative to milk, and thus more palatable to people who experience symptoms of lactose intolerance. This was a key factor cited in the final rule to include yogurt in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited