Enjoy Healthy Eating with Chocolate Milk
Enjoy Healthy Eating with Chocolate Milk

Remember when you were a kid, and once in a while, you'd get your hands on a carton of cold, frosty chocolate milk? Or did you sometimes stir the chocolate powder in to transform regular milk into chocolaty goodness? Remember how great that was?

Glass of Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is a treat and it really can be a part of healthy eating!

Chocolate milk at the gym and on the field

Chocolate milk is a great sports recovery drink for both exercisers and athletes1. Chocolate milk has carbohydrates and protein to help with workout recovery, replenishing exhausted muscles2.It provides fluids and electrolytes such as potassium, which is important for rehydration.

Good nutrition will build a foundation for budding athletes -- and all kids -- as well3. Calcium and vitamin D from milk are recommended for growing children to promote strong bones, especially those that participate in sports3. And the protein in milk can be used by the body for building muscles after a workout4.

Chocolate milk in the lunchroom

Flavored milk is a great option for kids, who prefer the taste and tend to drink more flavored milk. A study conducted in 2014 found that without flavor options in the school lunchroom, milk consumption dropped by 10 percent. Sales of white milk did increase, but 29 percent of that increase was thrown away5

If chocolate milk is eliminated from the lunchroom and kids don't drink plain milk in its place, they lose out on a lot of nutrition. Even fortified juice doesn't make up the loss, and comes with more sugar. Kids would have to eat half a cup of cantaloupe, 3.5 ounces of apples and half a cup of baked beans in addition to their regular lunches to make up for the nutrients lost by not drinking an eight ounce cup of milk.

Chocolate milk has all the nutrition of plainReading a milk food label

Just one serving of flavored or unflavored milk provides about 300 milligrams of calcium, or about one-third of a child or adult's recommended daily calcium intake or one-quarter of an adolescent's recommended daily intake.

Flavored milk is generally fortified with vitamin D at the same level as unflavored milk. Milk is one of the best food sources of vitamin D, which is critical for calcium absorption and maintaining strong bones6

But what about that added sugar?

Flavored 100 percent milk does include some added sugar, although most of the carbohydrate (sugar) listed on the label comes from lactose, the natural sugar found in milk. Flavored milk includes about 2 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar (depending on the brand), for an additional 30 to 60 calories per serving.

Compare that to regular soda, which contains up to eight teaspoons of added sugar per serving. Fruit drinks have between six and nine teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Flavored milk is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and a can be an alternative to plain milk. Some kids tend to prefer it, which ensures they're getting the nutrients they need. So you can certainly feel comfortable serving it to your children, and while you're at it, pour yourself a glass and remember one of your favorite drinks from your childhood.

Food label image source: Driftwood Dairy.com

 

References

1. Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Feb;16(1):78-91.

2. Spaccarotella KJ, Andzel WD. The effects of low fat chocolate milk on postexercise recovery in collegiate athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Dec;25(12):3456-60.

3. Purcell LK. Sport nutrition for young athletes. Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Apr;18(4):200-5.

4. Kulkarni B, Hills AP, Byrne NM. Nutritional influences over the life course on lean body mass of individuals in developing countries. Nutr Rev. 2014. Mar;72(3):190-204. 

5. Hanks AS, Just DR, Wansink B. Chocolate milk consequences: a pilot study evaluating the consequences of banning chocolate milk in school cafeterias. PLoS One. 2014. Apr16;9(4):e91022. 

6. Golden NH, Abrams SA. Optimizing bone health in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2014 Oct;134(4):e1229-43.

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