There is a great deal of concern lately about the amount of sugar we eat and rightly so. High sugar consumption is not consistent with a healthy diet. Consumers should become educated on the sources of sugar in their diet and learn to strike the right balance between nutrients and sugar intake.
Some low-sugar diets claim to promote weight loss and even recommend eliminating all sugar, even the natural sugars found in fruit. Most consumers can see the folly in this idea. A balanced diet that includes food from all five food groups is a basic starting point to healthy eating.
But what about the sugars in milk and dairy foods? How much sugar is in milk and is it healthy or not?
We have to start with a lesson in label reading. All milk contains natural sugar. The label pictured to the right is for 1% low-fat milk. You see on the label it has 14 grams of sugars. This is the 100% natural sugar found in milk as it comes from the cow—no sugar is added. This sugar is called lactose.
If you are worried that the lactose in milk and dairy foods may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, you can take this worry off your list. A growing body of research indicates that dairy may play a protective role against type 2 diabetes, particularly in those who consume low-fat dairy foods. Milk components such as whey, calcium, vitamin D, fatty acids and/or lactose are thought to help out with sugar metabolism.