Q: Is Drinking Chocolate Milk Good For Your Children?
November 13, 2012
Culinary Nutritionist Andrea Canada explains how drinking flavored milks - such as chocolate milk - can alter our children's palates.
As a follow-up to last week’s blog post about the many types of milk available at the grocery store, I wanted to dedicate a blog post specifically to flavored milks that can be so popular with children. While flavored milks (such as strawberry or chocolate milk) contain similar amounts of vitamin D, calcium, potassium and protein, they also contain added sugars. Flavored milk is therefore no longer as nutritious and contributes a significant amount of added sugar to children’s diets.
For comparison, an 8 oz cup of low-fat 1% plain milk contains about 100kcal, 2g of fat and 13g of sugar (the lactose that is naturally found in milk). An 8 oz cup of chocolate milk contains over 150kcal, 3g of fat and 25g of sugar. That’s an additional 3 teaspoons of added sugar and 50 calories!
The American Heart Association has recently recommended limiting added sugars to between 100-150kcal per day for adults. So after just two cups of flavored milk a child has already reached the daily limit for an adult!
The food supply is flush with ultra-sweet foods engineered to appeal to children. Sweeteners are an expected addition to candy or baked goods and should be consumed in very limited amounts. However, through breakfast staples like flavored milks, sugary cereals and sweetened yogurts parents are unintentionally introducing added sugars into their children's diet daily, or even more often for some. This reinforces a child's taste for sweetness outside of the occasional treat or dessert and skews the palate towards sweetness. Instead, we should try to encourage an appreciation of all tastes, especially lower levels of sweetness (such as fresh fruit in plain yogurt).
So, what if you want to take flavored milk out of your child's diet but your child has grown accustomed to flavored milks? To ease the transition to plain milk, try stick-blending some banana or strawberry slices into a cup of plain low-fat milk for a naturally sweetened smoothie.
Do your children drink flavored milks? Are you trying to cut added sugar out of their diet? Let us know in the comments below!
For more nutrition advice head over to our Nutrition 101 blog!
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