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A Buyer's Guide to Milk

Help for consumers in the dairy aisle.

With its balanced mix of carbs and protein and rich supply of calcium and other bone-strengthening nutrients, (cow’s) milk certainly does a body good. But with so many choices on grocers’ shelves, how do you know which one you should buy? EatingWell helps you cut through the confusion with this guide.

 

Whole, reduced-fat, low-fat or nonfat?

Consider whole milk—which delivers 150 calories and 8 grams fat (5 grams saturated) per cup—a once-in-a-while treat. Nutrition experts recommend drinking low-fat (1%) milk (100 calories, 2.5 grams fat) or nonfat milk (80 calories, 0.5 grams fat) to limit intake of the saturated fats that boost risk of heart disease*. Don’t be fooled: reduced-fat (2%) milk is not a low-fat food. One cup has 5 grams fat, 3 of them the saturated kind. You won’t miss out on milk’s nutritional boons when you opt for low-fat or nonfat milk (sometimes called “skim”): per cup, all varieties deliver about one-third of the recommended daily value for calcium and at least 20 percent of the daily value for riboflavin, phosphorus and vitamin D.
*Infants under age 2, who need extra fat to support a developing brain, should drink whole milk.

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