Friday, April 20, 2018

Let's Talk About Milk

Nowadays, there is more than just one type of milk to buy at the grocery store. It used to be a choice of fat-free, 1%, 2%, or whole milk, and now there is the addition of non-dairy milks to our shelves. What is the difference and what is the best option for you? Let’s get down to the bottom of it.

Dairy Milk
Dairy milk is naturally rich in calcium, vitamin B-12, potassium, and vitamin D. The calories per glass of milk depends on the type; fat-free, 1%, 2%, or whole with calories ranging from 80, 100, 120, and 150, respectively. All dairy milk will have 0 grams of added sugar and provides 8g of protein per serving. Fat-free or 1% has the lowest amount of saturated fat and can be a good choice for some people. That being said, if you prefer 2% or whole, it is okay to drink occasionally. Recent studies have shown that moderate consumption of whole milk can be beneficial for weight loss. This may be due to the fat in milk promoting a sense of satisfaction and fullness. Organic whole milk also contains a small amount of omega-3 fats which can be beneficial for health.

Soy Milk
Soy milk is the best option out there for those who prefer to drink non-dairy milk. One glass contains anywhere from 6-12 grams of protein, depending on the brand. Soy milk has a similar caloric content to milk, averaging about 100 calories per glass. It also matches dairy milk on certain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium. Fortunately, soy milk does not contain any saturated fat, and instead contains the healthier, unsaturated kind. Lastly, when picking a soy milk to purchase, it is important to look for “unsweetened” soy milks because many of them contain added sugars.

Almond Milk
Did you know that most almond milks have no more than 4 to 6 nuts per cup? This is part of the reason why unsweetened almond milk has such a low-calorie count of about 30-50 calories per cup. However, if you choose to pick a sweetened almond milk, you are looking at 1-3 grams of added sugar and 100 calories per cup. Many almond milks contain more calcium than soy and dairy milk, but fall behind when it comes to Vitamin D, potassium, and especially protein. One glass of almond milk provides on average only 1-2 grams of protein. Fortunately, just like soy milk, almond milk does not contain any saturated fat, and instead contains the healthier, unsaturated kind.

Coconut Milk
Why is everyone so obsessed with coconut lately? It may be partly due to the medium-chain fatty acids contained in coconuts that help support metabolism. However, coconut milk also has long chain saturated fatty acids that can raise your cholesterol. Coconut milk has more grams of saturated fat than dairy, soy, and almond milk, averaging about 4.5 grams per cup. Calories range anywhere from 45-80 calories per cup depending on if the milk is unsweetened or sweetened. There is also no protein in coconut milk and low amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Dairy or soy milk is your best option for providing adequate protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Unless you have an opposition, allergy, or intolerance to either of these milks, they are the best options out there for you. If you choose to not drink dairy milk, pay attention to your intake of vitamin B12. Dairy milk is the only form of milk that contains this vitamin and it is essential to ensure that it is being adequately replaced in the diet. Almond milk comes in 2nd place, while coconut milk comes in last. It contains high amounts of saturated fat, no protein, and low amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Kirkpatrick, K. (2014). 6 popular milks: a comparison. Retrieved from

Moyer., L. & Ettman, L. (2018). What milk? How to navigate the non-dairy aisle. Nutrition Action Health Letter.

My name is Brianna Newell and I am currently a senior at RIT in the Nutrition & Dietetics Program. I will be graduating in May 2018 and will be attending the University at Buffalo to complete my Dietetic Internship and combined Masters of Science in Nutrition. My focus as a future Registered Dietitian is to educate others on a personal and communal level to prevent and treat illnesses and diseases related to health and nutrition. 

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