Nutrient Contribution of Milk and Milk Products
Milk and milk products make an important contribution to the American diet. According to government estimates, dairy foods (excluding butter) provide the following percentages of nutrients available in the nation’s food supply:
- 73 percent of the calcium.
- 33Â percent of the phosphorus.
- 31 percent of the riboflavin.
- 19 percent of the protein.
- 16Â percent of the magnesium.
- 21Â percent of vitamin B12.
- 17Â percent of vitamin A.
- 10Â percent of vitamin B6.
- Appreciable amounts of vitamin D (if fortified) and niacin equivalents.
Milk and other milk products contributed only 9 percent of the total calories available. These foods are nutrient-dense foods, providing a high concentration of many nutrients in relation to their calories.
Nutrient Content of Milk Products
Milk products have an excellent nutrient profile, providing significant amounts of high-quality protein, calcium, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin equivalents, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin A, and when added, vitamin D, as well as several other essential nutrients. In fact, milk is a nutrient-dense food, providing a high nutrient content in relation to its calories.
All milk productsÂ — whole, 2 percent reduced fat, 1 percent low fat, and nonfat milk — have a similar nutrient content with the exception of calories and fat.
The nutrient content of flavored milk products such as chocolate milk is similar to that of the corresponding unflavored milk. The major exceptions are the higher contents of carbohydrate and calories in chocolate milk due to the addition of sucrose and other nutritive sweeteners. In general, chocolate milk products have about 60 more calories than their unflavored counterparts. For information on the nutrient content of other milks, refer to USDAs Nutrient Database.
The Nutrition Facts label on all milk products, including fluid milks, lists mandatory and optional dietary components per serving in a specified order. This label includes information on total calories and calories from fat. It also lists amounts of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, in this order. Other dietary components that may be listed voluntarily include calories from saturated fat, amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, potassium, soluble and insoluble fiber, sugar alcohol, other carbohydrate, and other essential vitamins and minerals. If a claim is made about any of these components, or if a dairy food is fortified or enriched with any of them, listing of the optional component becomes mandatory.
The amount per serving (e.g., grams, milligrams) of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fibers, sugars, and protein is listed on the label. The amount of each of the above, as well as of vitamins and minerals (e.g., vitamins A and C, calcium, iron) also is presented as a percent of the Daily Value (percent Daily Value). Daily Values are the label reference numbers based on current dietary nutrient recommendations. Some labels list the Daily Values for a daily diet of 2,000 and 2,500 calories. Daily Values can help consumers determine how a food fits into an overall diet.
The labels on milk products also provide consistent serving sizes (e.g., 1 cup) and standard definitions for descriptive terms.
Specific Health Benefits of Milk Products
The following specific health benefits of milk products have been noted:
- Intake of fluid milk has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, and colon cancer.
- Drinking milk may help to reduce the risk of kidney stones. A recent epidemiological study of more than 81,000 women with no history of kidney stones links intake of nonfat milk with decreased risk of colon cancer.
- Milk intake may help to reduce the risk of tooth decay by acting as a substitute for saliva. In addition to providing moisture which helps clear cavity-promoting substances (simple sugars) from the oral cavity, milk buffers oral acids. It reduces the solubility of tooth enamel, and helps to re-mineralize tooth enamel.
- Consuming chocolate milk improves children’s nutrient intake. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that chocolate milk, because of its sugar content, contributes to dental caries. On the contrary, because chocolate milk is liquid and cleared relatively quickly from the mouth, it may be less cariogenic than other sugar-containing foods (raisins, candy) that adhere to tooth surfaces. Also, several components in chocolate milk, such as cocoa, milk fat, calcium, and phosphorus, may protect against dental caries.
Milk Products and Weight Loss
There is no scientific evidence that intake of recommended servings of dairy foods such as milk contributes to overweight. Weight loss is achieved by reducing total caloric intake and/or increasing physical activity. For individuals concerned about reducing their body weight, milks (and other dairy foods) of different calorie content are available. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans cautions that even people who consume lower fat foods can gain weight if they eat too much of foods high in starch, sugars, or protein.
Did you know?
Doctors aren’t sure why, but applying a milk compress to a cold sore may help it heal more quickly. Just dip a washcloth or handkerchief in milk, apply it to the sore for five seconds, then remove it for another five. Continue the process for five minutes. Repeat it every 3 to 4 hours, rinsing your skin between treatments.