Dairy products are nutritious and enjoyable for many people. Do you know how to fit dairy products into your meal plan? How about healthy choices of dairy products and their benefits? Did you know that research has found an association between certain types of dairy products and a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Let’s explore these topics and as a special treat, we will provide you with links to delicious recipes containing dairy foods for you to savor!

how does dairy fit into a diabetes friendly dietFitting Dairy products into your meal plan
People with diabetes usually work with a dietitian (RD) and/or certified diabetes educator (CDE) to develop a meal plan that works for them. The most common meal plans are based on carbohydrate counting or exchange lists. Your dietitian should help you with the following:
1.    If you use the exchange system- the amount and kind of dairy products you should eat per day and when you should eat them.
2.    If you count carbohydrates- figure out a carbohydrate to insulin ratio (how many grams of carbohydrate are covered with one unit of the type of insulin you take) and how to use it. Some people are given a certain number of grams of carbohydrate to eat at meals and snacks. They are also given an amount of protein and fat foods to eat throughout the day.
If you are carbohydrate counting, you need to know the number of grams of carbohydrate in the foods you eat. If you use the exchange system, you need to know which foods fit into the food classifications and how much of the food equals the exchanges you are given to consume. 

Read the exchange list which includes carbohydrate amounts.  
If you look at the exchange lists, milk and yogurt are listed in their own section and cheeses are listed under the meat section. Milk and yogurt contribute to your carbohydrate allowance whereas cheeses do not.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the following as the best sources of dairy products:
1.    fat-free or low-fat (1% milk)
2.    plain non-fat yogurt (regular or Greek yogurt)
3.    non-fat light yogurt (regular or Greek yogurt)
4.    unflavored fortified soy milk (1)

The Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2014 mentions for good health, carbohydrates from foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and dairy products should be consumed rather than carbohydrate sources containing added fats, sugars and/or sodium. (2) 

Are low-fat dairy products considered good food choices?  
As long as there are not allergies, intolerances, medication interactions, spiritual beliefs or preferences, or recommendations from your health care team, low-fat dairy products can be an excellent choice of food to include in your diet. Here are three excellent reasons!
•    Low-fat dairy products  are convenient sources of necessary nutrients: The Harvard School of Public Health recognizes that dairy products are a convenient source of calcium and protein and may be fortified with vitamin D and vitamin A. (3) Check your food label to see if the brand of dairy product you are buying is fortified with vitamin D and vitamin A.
•    Low-fat dairy products helps reduce the risk of some diseases: Consuming these products has been shown to possibly lower the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and lower the risk of colon cancer. (3)
•    Low-fat dairy products helps protect people from developing diabetes:  A large study released in 2013 evaluating more than 25,000 subjects using a 7 day food diary found an inverse association  between diabetes and consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products (specifically with yogurt intake). Other fermented dairy products included in the study were cheeses and sour cream. (4,5) Increased yogurt consumption (compared to no yogurt consumption) was correlated with a 28 percent reduced risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes. The decrease in the rate of diabetes developed was seen with a consumption of 125 g (a little over 4 ounces) of low fat yogurt per week. When consumption of yogurt and other low-fat fermented dairy products was studied compared to not eating these products, the relative risk of diabetes was lowered by 24 percent over the course of 11 years. (6)

Note: People at risk of ovarian or prostate cancer may want to discuss limiting dairy products with their medical team. (3) Pasteurized dairy products are recommended for consumption. For information on the risks of non-pasteurized milk and dairy products visit the FDA website

DiabetesCare.net is continuing to develop appealing and enjoyable recipes to help with your health. We also have permission from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) to use some of their recipes to give you scrumptious dairy filled foods. 
Here is a partial list of some of our new dairy recipes and links to the information. Please enjoy them; they are delightful and oh so tasty!
1.    Hearty Leek, Potato and Vegetable Soup
2.    Greek-Yogurt, Blueberry and Banana Creamy Yummy Frozen Treats
3.    Turkey, Black Beans and Vegetable Chili (crock-pot recipe) 
4.    Roasted Eggplant with Tomato Sauce and Vegetables
5.    Caribbean Milk Cooler (from SUDIA) 
6.    Chai Coffee (from SUDIA)
7.    Chocolate Comfort Sipper (from SUDIA)
8.    Baked Oatmeal (from SUDIA)
9.    Salmon Cakes with Coleslaw and Lime Dill Yogurt Sauce (from SUDIA)
10.  Sweet Potato Bisque (from SUDIA)

For more information on the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association visit their website.