Milking the Health Benefits of Milk

by Diane Lofshult on Nov 01, 2007

Food for Thought

Milk has long been the whipping boy when it comes to health scares about the dangers of excess fat in our diets. Now nutrition experts are saying that milk does have a place on the table, provided that it is lower fat and ingested in moderate amounts.

Health Benefits. The vast majority (98%) of the milk sold in the United States is fortified with vitamin D; 1 cup of fortified milk contains 25% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin D. When fat is removed from milk, vitamin A is removed in the process; that’s why 2%, 1% and fat-free milk are usually fortified with vitamin A. One cup of fortified milk provides 10% of the DV for vitamin D. A cup of milk also contains 20% of the DV for phosphorous. An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 276 milligrams (mg) of calcium, whereas 2% milk provides 297 mg; lower-fat milks actually provide more calcium per cup than whole milk because some of the volume in whole milk is displaced by milk fat, which contains no calcium.

Selecting Which Milk to Buy. Whole milk (with 146 calories and 7.9 grams [g] of fat per 8-ounce glass) is usually considered too high in fat for adults and children over the age of two to consume on a regular basis. Instead, opt for 2% (also called reduced fat) milk (121 calories and 4.7 g of fat per 8-ounce glass); 1% (known as low-fat) milk (102 calories and 2.6 g of fat per 8-ounce glass); or fat-free milk (83 calories and 0 g of fat per 8-ounce glass).

Storing Milk. Even when pasteurized, milk is highly perishable. Keep milk as cold as possible in the fridge without freezing. Choose milk that comes in opaque containers rather than clear jugs, since exposure to light can affect flavor. If properly stored, milk can keep up to 1 week beyond the “Use-Buy” date on the container.

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at