Between childhood obesity issues, dental issues and allergy issues flavored milk has gotten a decidedly bad reputation. Far from the truth, flavored milk can play an important role in the diets of children and adults.
• Flavored milk provides the same 9 essential nutrients as white milk with just a small amount of added sugar. In fact, only 3% of added sugars in the diets of 12 – 18 year olds are from flavored milk.
• Drinking low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milk helps kids get the recommended 3 daily servings of dairy.
• Children who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs; do not consume more added sugar, fat or calories; and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers.
• Flavored milk drinkers have lower intakes of soft drinks compared with those who don’t drink flavored milk
• The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlight 4 nutrients of concern. Milk is the #1 source of three of those nutrients (calcium, vitamin D & potassium), and when paired with a fiber-rich fruit, vegetable or whole grain, milk is a great, protein-rich complement to the 4th nutrient of concern, dietary fiber.
• The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics recognize the valuable role that milk, including flavored milk, can play in meeting daily nutrient needs. In addition, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize that a small amount of added sugars can be used to increase the palatability of nutrient-dense foods, such as fat-free chocolate milk.
• Low-fat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and kids drink less milk (and get fewer nutrients) if it’s taken away.
• Recognizing that many schools want to reduce the sugar content in all their menu offerings, the dairy industry has taken action to reduce fat, calories and added sugars in flavored milk. Today, the majority of milk in schools is low-fat or fat free and contains 150 calories or less. Newer formulas have just 2-3 teaspoons of added sugar (compare that to the 9-12 teaspoons per can of soda).
• When flavored milk was removed from schools, milk consumption dropped an average of 35%
• When flavored milk is removed, many kids don’t make the switch to white milk and miss out on key nutrients for health, growth, and development.
• When flavored milk is removed, essential nutrients are taken with it. A combination of 3-4 foods is needed to replace these lost nutrients, which adds more calories to the diet.
Try flavoring milk with the syrups available for flavoring specialty coffee drinks. Just a little bit goes a long way so start with very small amounts. Mix up your favorite flavors: chocolate and vanilla, vanilla and strawberry, caramel and chocolate, chocolate and peppermint.
Pick up the “got milk” flavor straws at the local grocery store. Flavors are pre-portioned into the straws so as your milk drinker sips, they flavor their milk, clever and delicious.
The bottom line, milk, plain or flavored, offers a bigger, more complete natural, nutrient package than any other beverage. Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, or goofy berry, pick it because it equals better nutrition for your families.
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