When you grab a glass of milk at the dining hall or a gallon at the grocery store, do you wonder which kind is healthiest? The truth may surprise you.
Let’s begin with the fat percentages. The percent of fat shown on the label, or the percent of fat in the milk, is measured by the weight of the fat in the milk rather than by the actual content of fat. In whole milk, no fat has been removed whatsoever. By weight, whole milk has 3.25% fat. But by kilocalories, whole milk is 49% fat! Whoa! Two-percent milk contains 2% fat by weight, but 35% fat in content. One-percent milk is 1% fat by weight, but 21% fat in content. Skim milk, considered nonfat by weight, is .05% fat in content. Half of the fat in these milks is saturated fat, which raises cholesterol and your chances of heart disease. Thus, the larger amount of fat in the milk, the worse it is for you.
So skim milk seems healthiest when considering the amount of fat, but what about the vitamins and nutrients?
There is a large debate regarding the fat reduction process and whether the process of reducing fat in the milk reduces nutrients and vitamins. Actually, the opposite occurs. Although there is a good amount of nutrients in whole milk, there is also a good amount of fat. Truthfully, skim milk is the best for you, and here’s why:
Skim milk gets its name from skimming the fat off the top of the milk, leaving you with only the beneficial nutrients and vitamins like protein. So when you remove the fat from the milk, you are left with a higher amount of protein in the same amount of liquid. Essentially, skim milk is a concentrated form of protein and other nutrients. When comparing an 8 oz. glass of whole milk to the same amount of skim milk, skim has 8.7 grams of protein, whereas whole has 7.9 grams. Skim has 349 mg of calcium, and whole has 276.1 mg. Skim has 419 mg of potassium, and whole has 349 mg. Lastly, a glass of skim milk has only 5 mg of cholesterol. Whole milk? 24 mg! That’s almost 5 times the amount in skim! Although whole milk has vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are removed from skim milk in the fat processing, skim milk is fortified with vitamins A and D. Thus skim milk is both nutrient and vitamin-dense, but without the fat!
Next time you’re “mooing” for milk, make sure it says skim on the label.
By Aisling Williams