These days, chocolate milk is taking the heat. Mmmm: hot chocolate!
Some say that chocolate milk is not healthy. Hmmm.
Last time I checked, chocolate milk had 9 essential nutrients, just like white milk. Yes, chocolate milk has a little more sugar than white milk (chocolate milk has about 3-5 teaspoons added sugar per 8 ounces), however, there’s no denying that chocolate milk is a nutrient-rich beverage.
The nutrients in milk such as calcium, potassium, protein, magnesium and vitamin D help people get the nutrients they need. Milk provides 4 of the 7 nutrients adults fall short on (calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin A) and 3 of the 5 nutrients children fall short on (calcium, potassium and magnesium).
And I propose that a little sugar never hurt anyone. The fact is, flavored milk—including chocolate milk, strawberry milk, vanilla milk, etc.—accounts for only 3% of the added sugar in children’s diets.
So, why are some people down on chocolate milk? It has too much sugar, they say. Unfortunately, these folks are misinterpreting the numbers. Let’s break it down.
- White milk and chocolate milk contain a natural sugar called lactose. Chocolate milk also contains added sugar.
- When critics claim chocolate milk has too much sugar, they’re looking at the total sugar instead of focusing on the added sugar and comparing it to the added sugar in other beverages.
- In 8 ounces, pop contains about 7 teaspoons of added sugar whereas chocolate milk contains about 4 teaspoons of added sugar. And, let’s not forget that milk has many nutrients that pop does not.
Yes, I am a fan of chocolate milk. When I want the taste of chocolate as well as something refreshing to drink, low-fat chocolate milk fills both bills. And I’ll never forget that chocolate and strawberry milk were there for me when my 5-year-old daughter decided she didn’t like white milk anymore. Flavored milk kept her drinking milk when she would have otherwise stopped drinking it altogether.
I’m not the only one giving flavored milk the nod. Many health professional organizations including the American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute of Medicine and American Heart Association, recognize that consuming flavored milk can help children and teens meet nutrient needs.
Pour me—and my daughter—a cold one!
Kids Should Drink Milk, Even If It Is Chocolate by Dr. Sue Hubbard, pediatrician and co-host of “The Kids Doctor” radio show.
Milk Matters, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health
Adding Chocolate to Milk Doesn’t Take Away Its Nine Essential Nutrients, National Dairy Council
Top 5 Reasons to Raise Your Hand for Flavored Milk, National Dairy Council
Flavored Milk in Child Nutrition Programs fact sheet, National Dairy Council
Flavored Milk in Perspective, National Dairy Council
Flavored Milk: Questions & Answers, Dairy Council Digest