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9 Different Types of Milk Explained

The varieties of milk on store shelves seem almost endless: low-fat, whole, almond, lactose-free, soy…and that’s just the start.

So, drink up! The United States Department of Agriculture encourages consumers to choose low-fat or fat-free milk instead of sweetened products, like flavored milk or yogurt drinks. Make several different types of milk part of your menu each day. Here’s the USDA daily dairy recommendations:

  • Ages 2–3, 2 cups
  • Ages 4–8, 2 1/2 cups
  • Ages 9 and up, 3 cups

So, which container of milk should you grab?

Nonfat Milk

Milk produced by cows is rated by the amount of fat (by weight) that is present in the milk. Nonfat milk has all the fat removed, giving the drink a lighter flavor. This is your lowest-calorie dairy milk option.

Low-Fat Milk

If you prefer a creamier milk that is not too rich, choose low-fat. This is often labeled as 1 percent milk, meaning it has 1 percent milk fat. Use low-fat milk for drinking, pouring over cereal, or baking.

Reduced-Fat Milk

When you crave an even creamier milk, to make homemade ice cream or pasta sauce, reach for reduced-fat milk. This is labeled as 2 percent milk and is an all-purpose milk that also tastes great to drink.

Whole Milk

Full-fat milk, or whole milk, generally contains 3.5 percent milk fat. It’s great for making homemade butter, cream, and cottage cheese, and it’s rich in flavor and thicker in texture than reduced-fat milk.

Whole milk is important to the growth and development of toddlers over 12 months of age. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) notes that fortified cow’s milk is an important part of a toddler’s diet because it provides protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D. Fat and cholesterol restriction should be avoided in children younger than two years. Fat is a calorically dense nutrient, containing nine calories per gram, which makes it an important component of toddlers’ diets because of their limited gastric capacity. Infants and young toddlers may need high amounts of energy from fat because of increased caloric requirements for growth and rapid brain development.

Lactose-Free Milk

For some people, milk causes digestive upset. LActose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk, is unable to be broken down in the digestive system due to a lack of lactase, a digestive enzyme in the small intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some milk producers remove the lactose, making the milk safe for people with a lactose intolerance.

Soy Milk

If you are on a dairy-free diet, venture into different types of milk made from plants, as noted in Women’sHealth. To make soy milk, soybeans are processed into a pale-colored liquid that is delicious to drink or use in your cup of coffee or tea.

Almond Milk

Another dairy-free milk option is almond milk. This milk has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor and creamy texture. It works well served cold as a drink, used in smoothies, or in lieu of regular milk when baking sweets.

Rice Milk

If you have a nut allergy or are lactose intolerant, consider trying rice milk. One of the gentlest milk types, rice milk is often fed to infants with dairy allergies. The milk has a watery texture and can substitute for sports drinks since it’s rich in electrolytes.

Organic Milk

Any type of milk can be produced organically. This means the animals, nuts, or grains that created the milk must be grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, or any other lab-created chemicals.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

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