Tips From UPMC Health Plan - Food in a Glass

Milk is an excellent source of nutrition.Choosing the best milk option for you.

Are you lingering longer in the dairy aisle, pondering your ever-increasing options?
Should you reach for your usual skim milk — or be adventurous and try rice, almond, or soy?

Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, UPMC’s director of sports nutrition, says making the right choice is this simple: “Essentially, milk is food in a glass. Choose the drink that offers the best nutrition for your needs.”

Not all milk and dairy alternatives are equal: read labels carefully, comparing the fat and carbohydrate contents. “For example, to reduce soy milk’s ‘beanie’ taste, sugar is added,” explains Ms. Bonci. “That can jump the carbohydrate count from 12 to 24 grams.”

Look beyond just calories, too: milk is rich in protein, calcium, and minerals. “An 8-ounce serving of milk has 8 grams of protein, compared to 6 grams for soy milk and just 1 gram for almond and rice milk,” she adds.

Unless a food allergy is present, the best choice for most of us is cow’s milk. “For children under two, select whole milk,” says Ms. Bonci. “Otherwise, reach for 1 percent or skim milk — both offer a lower saturated fat content and higher calcium. Enhanced or ‘super’ skim milk features a richer texture many people prefer.”

And if you’re debating about organic versus regular milk, Ms. Bonci advises that your pocket-book be your guide. “There’s no nutritional difference between the two,” she says.

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