Adults and kids take in about 400 calories per day as beverages, according to the USDA’s Choose My Plate program (1). Beverages such as dairy milk can be a key source of nutrients, and when it comes to nutrition, moms want to make informed choices for themselves and their kids.
Rich in calcium and protein, milk has 18 of 22 essential nutrients that your body needs.
With so many options available, it’s no surprise moms have questions. Some moms choose to serve alternative beverages rather than real dairy milk, but it’s important to know that non-dairy alternatives are not created equal to dairy beverages. In fact, these beverages differ in five key areas: nutrition, ingredient list, added sugars, price and taste.
The USDA doesn’t specifically define a recommended milk intake. Instead, it offers a broader recommendation for dairy intake. Adult men and women above the age of 50 should aim for three cups of dairy per day. The USDA’s dairy recommendation guidelines are designed to help you fulfill your calcium requirements. Keep in mind that while these foods have been listed as equal because of their calcium content, the amount of other nutrients that they contain, like carbohydrates and fats, varies. Dairy products that don’t retain their calcium, such as butter, cream and cream cheese, are not included in this recommendation. Milk is a recommended diet addition for women to support calcium needs.
Farm-fresh, dairy is naturally nutrient-rich.
Unlike many non-dairy milk alternatives farm fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich. It naturally provides calcium, phosphorus, high-quality protein, potassium and B vitamins. It is also fortified with vitamins A and D, creating a nutrient powerhouse of nine essential nutrients. Other milk alternatives, on the other hand, vary in their nutritional profiles, some containing little to no naturally occurring nutrients, so most are fortified.
A simple choice.
When you compare the ingredient list of milk to non-dairy alternatives, you may be surprised to find that many alternatives have 10 or more added ingredients, including salt, sugar or thickeners like gums. Dairy milk, a minimally processed and farm-fresh beverage, has just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A and vitamin D.
No added sugars in dairy milk.
When you look at the nutrition label on a gallon of milk, you will find sugar listed. However, that sugar is not added it’s naturally occurring lactose. But people may not realize when a food or beverage has added sugar. For instance, many types of non-dairy beverages, like almond milk, contain added sugar. Ingredients like cane sugar or cane juice on the ingredients list indicate sugar has been added to their milk.
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Dairy milk can help stretch your grocery budget.
At just about a quarter per serving, milk delivers more nutritional value per penny than just about any other beverage. Compare that to almond milk, at about $0.45 per 8-ounce serving, and other non-dairy alternatives like rice milk that can cost as much as $0.79 per serving. The average American household spends about 10 percent of their budget on food nearly $80 a week for groceries. One year of milk will cost the average family $628 vs. $1,222 per year for vanilla almond milk. That’s nearly $600 per year in savings.?
Has the taste kids and chefs love
Milk is the foundation for many classic recipes and tastes from around the world. From creamy macaroni and cheese to classic alfredo sauce and delectable creme brulee, milk adds dimension, accentuates flavor and serves as a decadent base to many of your favorite dishes. If you want to swap real dairy milk for another ingredient, remember that each alternative milk has a different flavor, which can change the flavor profile or the consistency of your dishes, even for pancakes, oatmeal and smoothies.
To learn more about the differences between milk and non-dairy alternatives, visit milklife.com/knowyourmilk.
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