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Week Three: Get the Perks of Dairy—Without All the Fat

This week, add some reduced-fat dairy, which will cream up your cooking and get healthy calcium into your diet (approximately 75 percent of adult Americans don't get the recommended daily allowance). Studies show not only that calcium helps prevent osteoporosis but that getting enough calcium each day (1,000 milligrams from ages 19 to 50 and 1,200 milligrams after age 50), along with adequate vitamin D (200 IU; 400 IU after age 50), helps control weight, lowers blood pressure, and may prevent certain types of cancer.

Your goal is to eat three to four servings a day of low-fat cheeses, yogurt, and 1 percent or skim milk; the calcium in dairy products is the most readily absorbed by your body. If you're lactose intolerant, fortified soy products—particularly those with calcium malate—are a fine substitute in cooking and often contain similar amounts of protein, vitamin D, and calcium. I do not recommend fat-free dairy products, particularly cheese; instead of getting creamy, bubbly, and brown in recipes, it can turn rubbery and tasteless.


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