So, let’s look at some good old fashioned cows milk and see what we come up with.
Milk is a major household staple in many homes across the globe, and for good reason. It’s a great source of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and protein, with 2% milk being the most commonly consumed. Some nutritionists say that skim milk is healthier as it has slightly MORE nutrients than 2% (the reason being, it is less dense and has less fat, thus having more room for vitamins). Many people understand that whole milk contains a significantly greater amount of fat than the reduced-fat or fat-free options, making it a less healthy option for most children and adults. (Some pediatricians recommend whole milk for children ages 1-2.)
What is less commonly understood, are the differences between the reduced-fat and fat-free options. Since milk is such a big part of so many people’s diets, let’s take a look to see how an 8-ounce glass of 2% milk stacks up to skim.
◦ One 8-ounce glass of 2% milk has 5 grams of fat, 3 of which are saturated, 130 calories
◦ One 8-ounce glass of skim has 0 grams of fat, 110 calories
Might not sound too bad right? But nutritionists say to stay under 20 grams of saturated fat per day, so let’s add this simple lunch to your glass of 2%, after all milk isn’t the only potential source for saturated fat:
One grilled cheese sandwich with two slices of American cheese cooked with one tablespoon of butter has 21 grams of fat, 13 of which are saturated – so that means in just one meal you’re up to 16 grams, doesn’t leave much space for enjoying that slice of pizza with salad later or a cup of creamy broccoli soup.
What about 2% or full fat milk for kids? Lots of parents have heard that fat is necessary for health brain function for growing children and that is true. However, most nutritionists and doctors now say you can switch your toddler to nonfat or 1% milk to scale back on high fat levels that they no longer need after the age of two. (When my boys were little we gave them whole milk as that is what the pediatrician recommended. When they turned the age of two, we made the switch to lower fat skim milk, and that is what they all drink today. Now, if they ever have whole milk they say it taste like drinking cream!)
2% milk is definitely better for kids (whole milk is even better for younger kids). 2% milk is more healthful in general, because it undergoes less processing. However, if you are worried about too much fat in your diet, skim milk may be a better choice. Keep in mind when people drink skim milk, they tend to (but not always) drink more of it though, in which case they are not consuming fewer calories.
Here is a comparison using Kroger store brand milk, we’ll compare 8 fl. oz. 2% milk with skim milk.
The Calcium Difference:
One of the primary reasons milk is considered to be a healthy beverage option is thanks to it’s high content of calcium. Calcium plays many important roles in the human body; promoting healthy bone growth being chief among them.
A common argument is that skim milk is better for you because it has more calcium. Let’s consider that:
“The calcium is not contained in the fat portion of milk, so removing the fat will not affect the calcium content. In fact, when you replace the fat portion that has been removed with an equal part of skimmed milk, you are actually increasing the calcium content.” – National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
Based on the statement above, it is accurate to say that milk with higher fat content results in lower levels of calcium. The question is, how much of a difference is it?
2 % = 298 mg calcium
Skim = 301 mg calcium
Difference: Not enough difference to make an argument. While 2% has less calcium than skim due to its higher fat content, the difference is nutritionally inconsequential.
The Fat Difference:
Cow’s milk (and any milk from an animal) contains saturated fat. This kind of fat, when consumed in excess, can be harmful to our bodies. Consuming too much saturated fat contributes to unhealthy cholesterol levels and promotes heart disease and weight gain, among other things. It is recommended that most children, teens, and adults keep their saturated fat intake to 12-17 grams depending on their activity level.
Saturated Fat Comparison:
2% = 2.9 grams
Skim = 0.3 grams
Difference: Quite significant. Drinking two 8 oz. glasses of 2% milk each day accounts for approximately 30% of your recommended saturated fat intake, whereas skim would be less than 1%.
The Calorie Difference
Calories, as units of energy, are not bad. In fact, consuming them is necessary for our bodies to function properly. People may get into trouble with calories when they consume more than their body needs. We all know that, right?
Here are the calorie differences.
2% = approx. 120
Skim = approx. 80
Difference: Significant. Drinking two 8 oz. glasses of skim milk costs you 80 more calories than skim milk.
Do the Differences Matter? While the difference in calcium levels is minimal, the saturated fat and caloric differences between 2% milk and skim milk do matter.
Nutritionists agree, that skim milk is the way to go. It provides calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, potassium, and protein, without the saturated fat and higher calories of 2% and other options for cow milk.
I then turned to one of the top nutritionists, Joy Bauer, to see what she had to say on this issue. She explains that cow’s milk is one of the most concentrated natural sources of calcium. One eight-ounce glass provides 300 mg of calcium, and drinking a few glasses of milk each day (either plain as a beverage, or in cereal, oatmeal, or a healthy smoothie) can go a long way toward helping you meet your daily calcium goal.
• Children 4-8 years old need 800 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about three glasses of milk.
• Children 9-18 years old need 1,300 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about four glasses of milk.
• Adults 18-50 years old need 1,000 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about three glasses of milk.
• Adults over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about four glasses of milk.
For adults and all children ages 2 and up, she recommends skim (nonfat) milk, or 1 percent milk if you like the extra creaminess. Compared to whole and 2 percent milk, skim and 1 percent milk have less of the bad stuff — artery-clogging fat — but the same amount of the good stuff — calcium, protein, vitamin D, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.
Enhanced skim milk
Enhanced skim milk has extra nonfat milk solids or concentrated skim milk added to it, so it is richer in protein and calcium than regular skim milk. Most brands have 10-11 grams of protein compared to the eight grams of protein per serving in regular skim milk, and 350-400 mg calcium compared to the 300 mg calcium in regular skim milk. Popular brands include Farmland Dairies’ Skim Plus, Over the Moon, and Smart Balance fat-free milk. Enhanced skim milk is especially great for kids, who can often use the extra protein and calcium boost. It’s also a terrific choice for people who are trying to make the switch to fat-free milk for health reasons but just can’t adjust to skim milk’s thin consistency. Enhanced skim milk is creamier and richer than regular skim milk, since it is more concentrated and sometimes has added thickeners.
It seems that the nutritionists are more in favor of the less fat, more heart healthy choice of skim milk. Of course, it could also depend on who is drinking the milk, how often you are drinking milk and what your nutritional needs are. If you are making the decision for your very young children, asking your pediatrician would be the best thing. If watching your weight is not an issue, and you have a low fat diet otherwise, you can get away with 2% milk. However, it seems that looking at the nutritional value as a whole, the better choice is skim milk. So, get to the kitchen and enjoy a nice tall glass of skim milk!
http://andreanelsworth.hubpages.com/hub/Milk-Skim-vs-2-Whats-the-Difference-and-Does-it-Matter; skinny chef; Joy Bauer.com
Are you a milk drinker? How do you get your calcium? Have you bought your Halloween candy? Trying to hold off until the last minute . . .