This is another hot nutrition topic right now. Everyone is scared to death of cow’s milk. Instead they’re reaching for almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk and if they ARE drinking cow’s milk it’s whole milk because you wouldn’t want any of those “scary fake additives”. Wait, wait, wait. Let’s just hold on for a second. Before you start pouring all your skim milk down the drain (literally). Let’s look at this for a minute.
I drink skim milk. What? I’m a dietitian! Don’t I know how bad it is for me? Well…
Okay so first off we have the cold, hard nutrition facts…(they’re vary a bit based on the brand)
Calories: 80 vs. 150 – If you’re trying to lose weight and watching your calorie intake…duh. Skim.
Fat: 0 g vs. 8 g and…
Saturated Fat: 5 g vs. 0 g – Yes, there is newer research saying maybe we shouldn’t worry SO much about fat and should pay more attention to sugar but that doesn’t mean we should just forget about watching our fat intake altogether. First of all, this research is new and there is still a lot to be learned and secondly we still know that Saturated fat does have an impact on your heart health so limiting it a good thing. As a cardiac dietitian, trust me on this one. K?
Cholesterol: <5 vs 35 – Again, similar to fat this should be limited, not avoided but limited.
(PS this doesn’t mean don’t eat egg yolks! The yolks are awesome and full of protein and other essential nutrients…a post for another day)
**Note: You can see that whole milk is slightly lower in Sodium but barley…not exactly a significant reason to choose whole milk.
Total carbs, fiber and SUGAR: Exactly the same. So far I’m seeing a clear winner.
Protein: 8 g vs 8 g – Again, exactly the same. The amount of protein doesn’t change between skim, 1%, 2% or whole. You’ll get the same high protein drink with any of these.
Okay, but what about all the scary additives they put in skim milk? This is one of my favorites.
Um, you mean vitamin A and sometimes Vitamin D? You want Vitamin A and D in your diet, don’t you? Yes they add these back in but that’s usually it. They aren’t putting a bunch of crazy “secret” ingredients in skim milk. The Vitamin A palmitate the the same vitamin A that you’ll find in multivitamins, etc. I’m not sure where this myth got started but really, they are adding these fat soluble vitamins back in because they are lost when the fat is removed during skimming. Sometimes milk solids in the form of dried milk are also added because they contain proteins to thicken the milk. So…I’m not really seeing what’s so sketchy about these additives. None of these have been shown to have any negative side effects when consumed in normal amounts (like the amount found in fortified milk). We should probably be more worried about what’s in a lot of other things we’re eating, not the vitamins and protein added to skim milk. But that’s just me… Now if you want to drink 1%, 2% or whole because you like the taste and you’re not particularly worried about the fat content, etc. that’s fine. I’m just saying, don’t be afraid of skim milk!
Note: These recommendations of FOR ADULTS. Children have different needs because they need the extra fat in whole milk. So, for the kiddos:
Recommendations for Children
0-1 Year: NO cow’s milk (formula or breast milk)
1-2 Years: Whole milk
2+ Years: Skim or 1% milk