Is Dairy Good or Bad for You?

  • Article
  • 3 min read November 16, 2017

There’s a lot of information out there, so it can be difficult to know what to believe when it comes to the food we eat. That’s why it's important to learn more about the positive role dairy can play in our lives – and about the research that supports the benefits associated with enjoying dairy foods.

Pros of Dairy

Dairy Nutrition

First and foremost, dairy foods like milkcheese and yogurt each contain nutrients your body needs. For example, all three contain calcium, protein and most also contain vitamin B12, which help with rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue, building and maintaining strong bones and teeth and keeping your nervous system healthy.

Together dairy foods offer a powerhouse of nutrients. Plus, milk is an affordable option at 25 cents per serving and enjoying three 8-ounce glasses of milk each day provides the nutrient equivalent of these other foods.

Not only can dairy help you get the nutrients your body needs, but it can help in other ways, too. 

Dairy Health Benefits

Heart health

There’s strong evidence that indicates healthy eating patterns, including Dietary Guidelines of America dietary patterns that include low-fat and fat-free dairy, are linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

Bone health

It may be strange to think, but bones are living tissue that need nutrients daily to help them stay healthy. Milk is the No. 1 food source of three of those nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, in the American diets of children and adults, and also contain high-quality protein and phosphorus, which support bone health.

Type 2 diabetes

A growing body of research indicates that healthy eating patterns – including those featuring dairy – are associated with a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Potential Dairy Cons

People can be uncomfortable consuming dairy products if they are lactose intolerant or if they think dairy is related to cancer or acne. Learn why there is not conclusive evidence of dairy causing cancer or acne and about the lactose-free dairy alternatives.


When it comes to dairy foods and the risk of a complex disease like cancer, according to a comprehensive review, the evidence is not conclusive. But, according to the review, “the proven health benefits of dairy foods greatly outweigh the unproven harm.” Rather than focusing on removing specific foods or nutrients, which may do more harm than good, it’s important to concentrate on a healthy eating plan that contains all food groups, including dairy foods.


Acne isn’t fun for any one at any age, and while some may try cutting out certain foods to avoid it, research to date does not prove that the diet or any particular foods cause acne. A balanced, nutrient-rich eating plan can help keep skin healthy, and dairy foods, like milk, cheese and yogurt, are an important part of a healthy eating plan.

Lactose intolerance

Even if you live with lactose intolerance, there are lactose-free dairy products that can help you meet your nutrient needs.

Is Dairy Good or Bad?

We've reviewed the multiple benefits dairy has and how it can help us to reach our daily nutritional intake. We also saw there is not conclusive evidence that dairy causes any type of disease, and that if you are lactose intolerant you can eat confidently with lactose-free products. 

Looking for more information on what dairy products offer? Check out our list of dairy facts and find more helpful insights.