Do You Know Your Milk?
What You Drink Can Be as Important as What You Eat.
Beverages can be a key source of nutrition in our diets. And, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans lists low fat or fat free milk among recommended beverages for kids. But even milk can be confusing.
5 Things Mom Needs to Know About Milk and Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
There have been wide-ranging discussions from many people about milk, goat milk and non-dairy milk alternatives, like almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk. Some moms choose to serve alternatives to milk rather than real dairy milk, and you may wonder why. It’s important to note that eliminating nutrient-rich food groups, like dairy, may not only be unnecessary, it could also impact diet and health, according to the experts.
What Does My Child Need?
With so many options available, it’s no surprise moms have questions. Moms can rest assured experts and decades of research repeatedly reinforce the benefits of drinking dairy milk. According to Choose My Plate, children ages 2 to 3 should aim to consume 2 servings of dairy products, like milk, daily. Kids ages 4 to 8 years old should have 2 ½ servings, and kids ages 9 to 18 years old consume 3 servings each day. Beginning around the age of nine, the gap between the recommended daily amount of milk and milk products widens. In fact, 9 out of 10 teen girls do not drink enough milk.
Milk and Non-Dairy Alternatives are Not Created Equal.
Why Are the Full Mix of Nutrients in a Beverage Important to Consider?
Farm fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich — which is difficult to match in most non-dairy milk alternatives, and backed by decades of research.
Milk has nine essential nutrients including:
|B vitamins (riboflavin, B-12|
|High-quality protein||Vitamin A||Potassium||Phosphorus|
|Lean Muscle||Healthy immune system||Regulate the balance of fluids||Bone Building|
Milk is an important source in the American diet of additional nutrients, including thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6 and zinc that work in concert with other B vitamins like pantothenic acid to help convert your food into energy and magnesium, which also helps to build strong bones. Plus, milk has selenium, which works with vitamin A to help maintain a healthy immune system.
Non-dairy milk alternatives vary in their nutritional profiles and are often fortified, and their nutritional impact has not been thoroughly studied, so it’s important for moms to understand there are key differences between the beverages.
How Do These Drinks Stack Up?
There are real differences for you to consider between milk and non-dairy milk alternatives. For the complete picture — from calories and added sugar, to nutrients and ingredient list, as well as the amount of protein and price — here’s how each drink compares when you read the product label1.
|Added Sugar (g)||Nutrients||Ingredients||Price per serving|
|150 Calories||8g Protein||12g Sugar||0g Added Sugar||$0.23 per serving|
| 80 Calories||8g Protein||12g Sugar||0g Added Sugar|| $0.23 per serving|
|100 Calories||8g Protein||12g Sugar||0g Added Sugar|| $0.23 per serving|
| 100 Calories||7g Protein||6g Sugar||5g Added Sugar||$0.44 per serving|
| 60 Calories|| 1g Protein||7g Sugar||7g Added Sugar|| $0.45 per serving|
|100 Calories|| 8g Protein||6g Sugar||6g Added Sugar||$0.83 per serving|
|120 Calories|| 1g Protein||10g Sugar||10g Added Sugar||$0.79 per serving|
|70 Calories|| <1g Protein||7g Sugar||7g Added Sugar||$0.56 per serving|
|50 Calories|| 0g Protein||7g Sugar||7g Added Sugar|| $0.61 per serving|
1 . USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
2. Sales data from IRI, calendar year 2017, and average online grocery prices for top markets
+ Nutrients signify food provides 10% or greater of the Daily Value of labeled nutrients. Nutrients will differ by brand, flavor and fat content as nutrient fortification varies.
++ Product formulation will differ by brand, flavor and fat content, so ingredients may vary.
* Indicates nutrient is fortified.
** As niacin equivalents.
What should you know about added sugar?
When parents make beverage choices for their kids, it’s important to consider the company sugar keeps. Moms should think about the context of her child’s overall diet, nutrients and calories. Health experts, like American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), acknowledge that small amounts of sugar may help your kids enjoy nutritious foods, like flavored milk and whole grains.
Many people may not realize a food or beverage has added sugar. Here is a quick list to help you navigate the ingredient list.
Do you recognize these names for added sugar:
Anhydrous dextrose corn syrup dextrose high fructose corn syrup
Raw sugar sucrose fruit juice concentrate evaporated cane juice
honey malt syrup molasses maltrose nectars
What about natural sugar?
Ultimately, there are reasons to include sugar in the diet, but you may be surprised where you find it. When you look at the nutrition label on a gallon of milk, you will find sugar listed. But that sugar is not added, it’s lactose.
How can you get both nutrition and value in a beverage?
The average American household spends about 10 percent of their budget on food – nearly $80 a week for groceries. Take a look at how much dairy milk can help stretch your grocery budget.
How can milk enhance your favorite foods?
Milk is the foundation for many American favorites and tastes from around the world, and has been for centuries. From creamy macaroni and cheese to a classic alfredo sauce to a detectable crème brulee, milk adds dimension, accentuates the flavor and serves as a decadent base to many of your favorite dishes.
How Are Dairy Farmers Pioneers of the Farm-to-Table Movement?
The farm-to-table movement helps to connect you and your kids more closely with your food. From your ingredients’ origins to how your food choices are farmed, purchasing and eating in-season foods that are local to your area can help you and your family to support sustainable agriculture.
While milk is one of the original farm-to-table foods, it also is an integral part of the larger sustainable agriculture process. Sustainability is an important aspect of dairy farming. From using sustainable cow feed to reusing water and repurposing manure for fertilizer, farmers contribute to building a healthy planet while reducing waste. Additionally, they work to deliver exceptional care for their cows and also produce better products that preserve our natural resources responsibly. In fact, since 1944, U.S. dairy farmers have managed to decrease the amount of land and water it takes to produce a gallon of milk, resulting in a 63 percent smaller carbon footprint.