Milk: The Easy Choice for a Healthier Life

Some healthy choices are hard—like saying no to that candy bar. But some are easy, like drinking all-natural milk. No matter which flavor you choose, real dairy milk has more essential nutrients than plant-based beverages, energy drinks and fruit juices. And with 8 grams of protein per cup, milk will help you feel full longer, making those other hard choices just a little easier.
 

Want the best? Drink real milk.

Whether it's whole, low-fat, fat-free, lactose-free, chocolate or organic, all milk delivers a unique package of nine essential nutrients. Plant-based beverages rely heavily on added ingredients and fortification to enhance their overall nutritional value. They can vary in nutritional content, some falling short in important nutrients such as potassium.

Chart comparing low fat milk to plant-based milks
Sources: Milk Price Survey, 2016 and Silk.com

 
 

Is milk good for you? The proof is in the glass.

The next time you're at the store, take a look at milk's nutrition label. No matter which variety you prefer, you'll find nine essential nutrients in each gallon, carton and bottle.

Milk is one of the most nutrient-rich beverages you can enjoy. Regardless of flavor, one 8-ounce serving of milk contains nine essential nutrients—calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin, protein, vitamin B12, potassium, vitamin A and niacin.
 
  • White Milk:
     
    » Whole: One serving (8 fl oz) contains 150 calories, 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat
     
    » Reduced-Fat (2%): One serving (8 fl oz) contains 122 calories, 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat
     
    » Low-Fat (1%): One serving (8 fl oz) contains 102 calories, 8 grams of protein and 2.4 grams of fat
     
    » Fat-Free (Skim): One serving (8 fl oz) contains 83 calories, 8 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat
  • Chocolate and Flavored Milk
    Available in fat-free, low-fat, reduced-fat and whole milk options; flavored milk has cocoa, strawberry or other flavoring and added sweetener.  Low-fat chocolate milk is a beneficial sports recovery beverage.

 
 

Click a Drink to Compare >

Chocolate Milk
Fat-Free Chocolate Milk
Fat-Free White Milk
Low-Fat (1%) White Milk
Reduced-fat (2%) White Milk
Whole Milk-White
Apple Juice
Sports Drinks
Soda
Diet Soda
Energy Drinks
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Compare Drinks

Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Fat-Free Chocolate Milk
150 Calories 110
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 8
24 Carbohydrate (g) 20
22 Sugar (g) 18
190 Sodium (mg) 195
430 Potassium (mg) 407
300 Calcium (mg) 300
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 2.5:1
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Fat-Free Chocolate Milk: Like low-fat chocolate milk, fat-free (skim) chocolate milk provides the same unique combination of nutrients as low-fat chocolate milk. For refueling after a workout, athletes benefit from the protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes that chocolate milk provides. Fat-free milk contains less than .5 grams of fat per serving.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Fat-Free White Milk
150 Calories 83
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 8
24 Carbohydrate (g) 12
22 Sugar (g) 13
190 Sodium (mg) 103
430 Potassium (mg) 382
300 Calcium (mg) 300
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 1.5:1
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Fat-Free White Milk: Fat-free (skim) white milk is a nutrient-rich, fat-free beverage that provides nine essential nutrients that children and adults need as part of a healthy diet. Naturally rich in bone-building calcium and fortified with vitamin D, milk also contains lactose (a natural form of sugar) which makes up milk's total carbohydrate content. Fat-free milk has 0 grams of fat per serving.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Low-Fat (1%) White Milk
150 Calories 102
2.5 Fat (g) 2.4
8 Protein (g) 8
24 Carbohydrate (g) 12
22 Sugar (g) 13
190 Sodium (mg) 107
430 Potassium (mg) 366
300 Calcium (mg) 300
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 1.5:1
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Low-Fat (1%) White Milk: Low-fat white milk contains nine essential nutrients including high quality protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that can be part of a healthy diet and used for sports recovery. The main difference between white and chocolate milk for refueling is the total carbohydrate (natural and added sugar), which impacts the carbohydrate to protein ratio. Low-fat white milk contains 2.4 grams of fat per serving.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Reduced-fat (2%) White Milk
150 Calories 122
2.5 Fat (g) 5
8 Protein (g) 8
24 Carbohydrate (g) 12
22 Sugar (g) 12
190 Sodium (mg) 115
430 Potassium (mg) 342
300 Calcium (mg) 300
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 1.5:1
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Reduced-fat (2%) White Milk: Reduced-fat milk provides nine essential nutrients that children and adults need as part as a healthy diet. Naturally rich in bone-building calcium and fortified with vitamin D, milk also contains lactose (a natural form of sugar) which makes up milk's total carbohydrate content. Reduced-fat milk contains 5 grams of fat per serving.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Whole Milk-White
150 Calories 150
2.5 Fat (g) 8
8 Protein (g) 8
24 Carbohydrate (g) 12
22 Sugar (g) 12
190 Sodium (mg) 105
430 Potassium (mg) 322
300 Calcium (mg) 276
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 1.5:1
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Whole Milk-White: Whole white milk contains nine essential nutrients including high quality protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that can be part of a healthy diet. Whole white milk contains 8 grams of fat per serving.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Apple Juice
150 Calories 110
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 0
24 Carbohydrate (g) 28
22 Sugar (g) 26
190 Sodium (mg) 20
430 Potassium (mg) 260
300 Calcium (mg) 0
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 0
Per 8 oz serving
Per 8 oz serving
Apple Juice: 100% apple juice offers some electrolytes, carbohydrates and fluid. However, unlike chocolate milk, apple juice does not contain protein.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Sports Drinks
150 Calories 130
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 0
24 Carbohydrate (g) 34
22 Sugar (g) 34
190 Sodium (mg) 270
430 Potassium (mg) 75
300 Calcium (mg) 0
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 0
Per 8 oz serving
Per 20 oz serving
Sports Drinks : Many athletes choose sports drinks because they contain carbohydrates and electrolytes. However, unless the sports drinks are fortified, most lack beneficial protein and other essential nutrients found in chocolate milk. Sports drinks tend to be more expensive than nutrient-rich chocolate milk and contain added sugar.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Soda
150 Calories 140
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 0
24 Carbohydrate (g) 39
22 Sugar (g) 39
190 Sodium (mg) 45
430 Potassium (mg) 0
300 Calcium (mg) 0
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 0
Per 8 oz serving
Per 12 oz serving
Soda : Soda contains empty calories in the form of sugar. Soda doesn't provide any significant levels of nutrients and does not contain protein.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Diet Soda
150 Calories 0
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 0
24 Carbohydrate (g) 0
22 Sugar (g) 0
190 Sodium (mg) 40
430 Potassium (mg) 0
300 Calcium (mg) 0
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 0
Per 8 oz serving
Per 12 oz serving
Diet Soda: Although diet soda does not contain calories, it also does not contain carbs and protein. Diet soda often contains artificial sweeteners. Diet soda does not have any nutritional value and is not recommended for sports recovery.
Chocolate Milk
Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk       Energy Drinks
150 Calories 210
2.5 Fat (g) 0
8 Protein (g) 0
24 Carbohydrate (g) 54
22 Sugar (g) 54
190 Sodium (mg) 370
430 Potassium (mg) 0
300 Calcium (mg) 0
3.0:1 Carbs to Protein 0
Per 8 oz serving
Per 16 oz serving
Energy Drinks : Energy drinks contain added caffeine, some up to 160 milligrams which is equivalent to about two cups of coffee. Caffeine has varying effects on people, so a safe level has not been determined. Energy drinks may contain other stimulants and taurine which may negatively impact sports performance, heart, digestive system and electrolyte balance. Most do not contain protein for muscle repair and sports recovery. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) prohibits these substances in connection with high school athletic programs.
Chocolate Milk

Low-Fat (1%) Chocolate Milk

Low-fat chocolate milk is naturally rich in bone-building calcium, fortified with vitamin D and it has the right mix of carbohydrate to protein to help athletes refuel after a workout. It also provides electrolytes (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium). While many other beverages contain both carbs and electrolytes, most lack the added benefit of protein found in low-fat chocolate milk. It provides a source of easily digested high quality whey protein to promote protein synthesis. Low-fat chocolate milk has 2.5 grams of fat per serving.
 
*Note: This nutritional information is provided as a guideline. Please check nutrition labels for specific product information.

How many glasses of milk should I drink?

It is difficult to obtain enough calcium without consuming milk or other dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt. An adequate intake of calcium is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Evidence also indicates the milk intake is associated with the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as lower blood pressure in adults.
 
To help meet calcium needs, the following number of servings of milk (or its equivalent) are recommended every day:

Age RDA*
(mg/day)
Number of
Servings
1-3
700 2.5
4-8 1,000
3
9-13 1,300
4
14-18 1,300 4
19-30 1,000 3
31-50 1,000
3
51-70 males
1,000 3
51-70 females
1,200 4
Over 70 1,200 4
*Source: Institute of Medicine, December 2010

 

Use these tips for safe milk storage and handling.

Milk is perishable. To preserve its safety and quality, follow these tips:

  • Refrigerate milk at 40ºF or less as soon as possible after purchase and store in the original container.
  • Return milk to the refrigerator immediately after pouring out the amount needed. Never return unused milk to the original container.
  • Keep milk containers closed to prevent the absorption of other flavors. An absorbed flavor changes the taste, but the milk is still safe.
  • Protect milk from exposure to strong light since light can reduce its riboflavin content and cause off-flavors.
  • Look for the "sell by" or "pull" dates on milk cartons. If properly cared for, milk generally stays fresh for two to three days after this date. Some dairy processors guarantee their products for a specific time after this date. Ask your grocer for more details.
  • Keep canned milks like evaporated and sweetened condensed milks in a cool dry place and invert the cans every two months. These milks generally keep for about a year at room temperature. Once opened, canned milks should be poured into an opaque covered container, refrigerated and used within a few days.
  • Store dry milk in a cool, dry place and keep in an airtight container after opening. Once reconstituted, dry milk should be refrigerated and handled like other fluid milks.
  • Freezing of milk is not recommended. It causes undesirable changes in milk's texture and appearance.
  • Microwaving milk is not recommended to extend milk's shelf life or as a means of pasteurization.
 

More questions about milk? Here are the ones we get a lot.

  • When can infants be fed cow's milk?
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants should consume breast milk or iron-fortified formula until they are 12 months old. In most cases, infants can be transitioned to whole milk until the child is two years old. A new recommendation tells parents that kids at risk of being overweight, those whose families have a history of obesity, heart disease or high cholesterol, should drink only reduced-fat milk between 12 and 24 months. After their second birthday, all children should be switched to low-fat milk. Parents should note it is important to talk with the family doctor regarding the best choice of milk for each child.
  • Should I be concerned about giving my child chocolate milk?
    No. Chocolate milk is just as nutritious as white milk. Both milks are excellent sources of calcium, a nutrient low in many children's diets. Because kids like chocolate milk, they are more likely to consume this beverage and, at the same time, boost their calcium intake. Research in the Journal of American Dietetics shows that children who drink flavored milk drink more milk overall compared to those who exclusively drink white milk. Regardless of flavor, milk drinkers do not have higher body weights compared to non-milk drinkers.
  • If I'm lactose intolerant, should I avoid milk?
    Not necessarily. Many individuals who have difficulty digesting lactose (milk's sugar) can consume a glass or two of milk a day with meals with few symptoms. Smaller portions of milk (4 oz.) consumed more often may be better tolerated. Lactose-reduced or lactose-free milks are also an option. Lactose-reduced milk contains about 70% less lactose than regular milk. Lactose-free milk is 100% lactose reduced.
  • What is Vitamin A Palmitate?
    When added to milk vitamin A is combined with palmitic acid, also known as retinyl palmitate, to make it stable. Vitamin A is added to reduced-fat, low-fat and fat-free milks.
  • Is milk fattening?
    Milk is key component to a healthy diet. There are a variety of milks available with different calorie and fat contents. For example, fat-free milk has only 83 calories, zero fat and all the calcium of other milks. You can review the Nutrition Facts on the milk label.
  • What is Pasteurization?
    Pasteurization is described as the process of heating every particle of milk or milk product to destroy microorganisms. Most commonly the milk is heated to at least 161° F for at least 15 seconds followed by rapid cooling to 40° F. Pasteurization of raw milk is recognized as an essential public health measure to reduce the risk of illnesses from pathogenic bacteria and increase the shelf life of milk and milk products.
  • What is Ultra-Pasteurization?
    Ultra-pasteurization involves heating milk to 280° F for at least two seconds, or sterilized at an ultra-high temperature (i.e., 280° F to 302° F) for at least two seconds.
  • How does UHT or Ultra High Temperature Differ from Ultra-Pasteurized Milk?
    Ultra-pasteurized milk has an extended shelf-life under refrigerated conditions. Milk products heated to an ultra-high temperature and aseptically packaged may be stored at room temperature for at least six months.
  • Why is Milk Homogenized?
    Homogenization breaks up milk fat and disperses it throughout milk resulting in a smooth, uniform texture. Most whole milk is homogenized to prevent the cream from rising to the top.
  • What is Cream?
    Cream must contain at least 18% milk fat. All cream products are pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized. See the link for specific details on sour cream, whipping cream and half-and-half. Learn more.
  • What is Evaporated Milk?
    Evaporated milk is made by removing about 60% of the water from whole milk. The milk is then homogenized, fortified with vitamin D, canned and heat sterilized. The addition of vitamin A is optional. Evaporated milk contains not less than 6.5% fat, while fat-free evaporated milk has no more than 0.5% milk fat.
  • What is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
    Sweetened condensed milk is a canned milk concentrate of whole milk to which sugar has been added and contains not less than 8% fat. The sweetener used (usually sucrose) prevents spoilage. Sweetened condensed fat-free milk contains no more than 0.5% milk fat.