Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — written by Becky Bell, MS, RD and Celia Shatzman — updated on June 14, 2021

Milk is just one of the most nutritious beverages top top the planet, which explains why it’s a staple in school lunches and is a famous beverage for human being of all ages.

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For decades, nutrition guidelines have recommended only low fat dairy products for everyone over 2 years old. However, in current years, researchers have referred to as that recommendation right into question (1).

Recent studies imply that skim can not constantly be the healthiest option when it concerns milk.


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There are several species of milk obtainable in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores. They mostly differ in their fat content. Entirety milk is sometimes referred to together “regular milk” due to the fact that the quantity of fat in it has actually not been altered. Skim and 1% milk are developed by removing fat from totality milk.

Fat contents is measured together a portion of the complete liquid, by weight. Right here are the fat contents of well-known milk varieties:

whole milk: 3.25% milk fatlow fat milk: 1% milk fatskim: less than 0.5% milk fat

This table summarizes the nutrients in 1 cup (237 mL) of number of milk varieties:


Skim MilkLow Fat MilkWhole Milk
Calories83102146
Carbs12.5 grams12.7 grams12.8 grams
Protein8.3 grams8.2 grams7.9 grams
Fat0.2 grams2.4 grams7.9 grams
Saturated Fat0.1 grams1.5 grams4.6 grams
Omega-3s2.5 mg9.8 mg183 mg
Calcium306 mg290 mg276 mg
Vitamin D100 IU127 IU97.6 IU

Since fat has more calories by load than any other nutrient, milk v a greater fat contents has much more calories (2, 3, 4).

Vitamin D is an additional nutrient that deserve to differ depending on the fat content. That a fat-soluble vitamin, so in milk it’s naturally existing only in the fat. However, most milk manufacturers add vitamin D to milk, for this reason every type has a similar vitamin D content.

One that the most significant nutritional differences between the milk ranges is their omega-3 content. Omega-3 fat acids have been connected to countless health benefits, including enhanced heart and brain health and also a reduced risk of cancer. The more fat a cup the milk has actually in it, the higher its omega-3 contents (5, 6, 7).

Additionally, studies have shown that organic whole milk contains an even greater amount of omega-3s than continuous whole milk (7).

Summary

The major difference in between the types of milk easily accessible is their fat content. Entirety milk contains an ext fat and also calories than skim milk.


Why is whole milk sometimes thought about unhealthy?

For years, nutrition guidelines have actually been instructing civilization to avoid totality milk, mainly because of its saturated fat content.

Mainstream nutrition recommendations advise limiting saturation fat as result of its claimed connection to love disease. Some research studies have presented that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, and researchers understand that high cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Based ~ above this information, specialists made the assumption that saturated fat must increase the hazard of heart disease. However, there was no experimental proof to prove that this to be true (8, 9).

In the 1970s, public plan was embraced based ~ above this assumed connection between saturated fat and also heart disease. Together a result, main guidelines instructed people to reduce their saturation fat intake.

A cup (237 mL) of totality milk has 4.6 grams of saturation fat, which is around 20% of the day-to-day amount encourage by the 2015-2020 dietary Guidelines because that Americans. For this reason, the guidelines introduce consuming only low fat or skim milk (1, 2).

In current years, this recommendation has been dubbed into question. There is now plenty of speculative data to suggest that eating saturated fat go not cause heart an illness (9).

Summary

In the past, whole milk was thought about unhealthy since of its saturation fat content, yet recent research does not assistance this recommendation.


There is very tiny scientific evidence that says you have to be preventing saturated fat in her diet. In fact, a testimonial of 21 studies concluded that there is no significant evidence the saturated fat increases the danger of heart disease.

Another study discovered that saturation fat intake was not associated with love disease, stroke, love attack, or heart-disease related death (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

The old theory is that saturated fat increases cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels boost the threat of love disease. However, the relationship in between saturated fat and cholesterol is more complicated than that.

Saturated fat does rise your blood level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, i beg your pardon is known as “bad” cholesterol. Yet what is regularly ignored is that saturated fat additionally raises level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. HDL has a protective effect against heart condition (15, 16).

Additionally, not all LDL is dangerous. There room different varieties of LDL, and it’s the really small, dense particles the LDL that have the most damaging results on the heart and arteries (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).

Interestingly, saturated fat actually alters LDL from the small, dense particles to the large, much less harmful particles (23, 24).

However, that is essential to keep in mind that some studies have connected full fat dairy intake v an raised risk that diabetes and also prediabetes, while others have displayed a neutral effect. One study discovered that skim and fermented dairy assets correlated to prediabetes, yet full fat and nonfermented dairy commodities had a hopeful outcome v prediabetes (25, 26).

Summary

There is no solid proof that saturated fat increases the threat of heart disease. Saturation fat does rise LDL, but it’s not the most damaging kind of LDL. It likewise raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels.


Many world avoid drinking totality milk since they assume the extra fat and calories will cause them to obtain weight. Interestingly, opposing is most likely true. Plenty of studies have presented that spend high fat dairy products products, such overall milk, might actually aid prevent load gain.

In one review, 11 out of 16 studies discovered an association in between consuming high fat dairy and also a reduced risk of developing obesity (27).

Another study discovered that dairy products fat intake is not linked to a higher risk of load gain, cardiovascular disease, or form 2 diabetes (28).

One very huge study detailed that women who consumed the highest quantities of high fat dairy products were the the very least likely to become overweight gradually (29).

Another examine of 1,782 men uncovered that those who had a high input of high fat dairy products had a 48% lower risk because that developing abdominal obesity, compared with men who had a medium intake. In the very same study, the men who had actually a short intake of high fat dairy commodities had a 53% higher risk for abdominal obesity (30).

This is far-ranging because abdominal muscle obesity, in i beg your pardon fat accumulates roughly the waistline, may be the worst type of load gain. Studies have uncovered that having fat roughly your middle boosts your risk for dice from heart condition and cancer (31, 32).

The relationship in between milk and weight management has actually been a research top for numerous years, and also findings have actually been inconsistent. However, most of these research studies either include all varieties of dairy commodities or emphasis on low fat dairy (33, 34, 35).

In studies that look at just high fat dairy products, like totality milk, there is a pretty regular connection between high fat dairy and lower body weight.

A research of almost 20,000 women found that those that consumed more than 1 offer of totality milk every day were 15% much less likely to get weight over a duration of 9 years than women who drank no milk or low fat milk (36).

Summary

People that drink entirety milk have tendency to sweet less. There is no proof that drinking whole milk rather of skim will certainly make you get weight.


Not just is over there no scientific proof proving the the saturation fat in entirety milk causes heart disease, however several research studies have displayed that drinking entirety milk is connected with health benefits.

Multiple studies have displayed that drinking entirety milk is associated with a reduced risk the metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of risk factors, consisting of insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, short HDL (good) cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels. When these risk determinants are present together, your threat for diabetes and heart disease is high (37, 38).

A examine of much more than 1,800 people found the adults with the highest intake of high fat dairy products had a 59% reduced risk because that metabolic syndrome 보다 adults v the lowest intake (39).

A 2016 research of practically 10,000 adults uncovered that high fat dairy commodities are associated with reduced markers that metabolic syndrome. The study discovered no advantageous effects linked with low fat dairy. The fat acids in entirety milk are likely responsible because that its wellness benefits (40).

In one big study, people with the highest amount that dairy-derived fat acids in their bloodstreams had actually a 44% reduced rate of diabetes 보다 those with the lowest amount (41).

Drinking entirety milk may have actually other notable benefits, including increased fertility and also a reduced risk that colon cancer. However, the evidence is not strong (42, 43).

Summary

Drinking totality milk may actually have actually some wellness benefits, consisting of lowering the hazard of metabolic syndrome.


There space some cases where skim milk might be the best choice for her diet. If you’re adhering to a an extremely low calorie diet, for example, the extra 63 calorie you will gain from drinking a cup (237 mL) of whole milk instead of skim can be an ext than you deserve to afford.

Skim milk likewise offers the benefit of being a relatively low calorie source of protein. Both entirety milk and also skim milk contain around 8 grams of protein per cup.

However, in entirety milk, protein provides up only 22% of the calories, conversely, it renders up 39% of the calories in skim milk.

Skim milk is “nutrient-dense,” meaning it gives a big dose that vitamins and also minerals v very couple of calories. In fact, skim milk is just one of the wealthiest food resources of calcium, providing around 300 mg every cup. This is even higher than the calcium content of whole milk, i beg your pardon is 276 mg per cup.

If you require to an increase your calcium intake however can’t purchased a lot of additional calories in your diet, skim milk is the way to go.

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Summary

Skim milk provides all the protein and also calcium that whole milk does but with substantially fewer calories.