Eating Well As You Get Older

Frequently Asked Questions

15. What kind of dairy products should I choose?

Low-fat or fat-free dairy products should be among the foods you choose every day. These products provide calcium and vitamin D to help maintain strong bones. They also provide protein and potassium.

  • Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt. Choosing these, rather than cheese, gives you important vitamins and minerals and less sodium and fat.
  • If you choose cheese, look for “reduced fat” or “low-fat” on the label.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk on cereal and oatmeal.
  • Top fruit salads and baked potatoes with low-fat yogurt instead of higher fat toppings such as sour cream.

Choose sweet dairy foods with care. Flavored milks, fruit yogurts, frozen yogurt, and puddings can contain a lot of added sugars. These sugars are empty calories and provide little in the way of nutrients.

If you avoid milk because of its lactose (milk sugar) content, you can get needed nutrients from lactose-reduced or low-lactose milk products. You might also drink small amounts of milk several times a day or take tablets with the enzyme lactase (available in most drugstores and grocery stores) before consuming dairy products.

If you don't drink milk, be sure to have other products that contain the nutrients that dairy products provide. Some cereals and juices are fortified with extra calcium and vitamin D. Salmon, sardines, and tuna are sources of vitamin D. Other sources of calcium include foods such as hard cheese, yogurt, canned fish such as salmon and sardines, and calcium-fortified tofu or soy beverages.