Milk Nutrition Facts

Calories in Milk and Health Benefits

Milk nutrition facts
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You've heard that milk does a body good. But which type of milk is best for your healthy diet? And what kind of milk should you drink if you are trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight?  Find out how to gain the health benefits of milk in your diet.

Calories in Milk

2% Low Fat Milk Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 122 
Calories from Fat 45 
Total Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 1g 
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 115mg5%
Potassium 140.16mg4%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 11g 
Protein 8g 
Vitamin A 1% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 29% · Iron 0%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

The number of calories in milk depends on the kind of milk that you choose to drink and the amount that you consume. Low-fat milk (2 percent milk) is one of the most popular varieties of cow's milk. It provides less fat than whole milk but has a creamier taste and texture than skim milk.

These are nutrition facts for different varieties of milk, based on USDA data. Knowing them might help you better pick which milk is best for you.

  • One cup of skim milk provides 83 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of fat.
  • One cup of 1 percent milk provides 102 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of fat.
  • One cup of whole milk provides 149 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, 8 grams of total fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.
  • One cup of half and half provides 315 calories, 7 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of sugar, 17 grams of saturated fat and 28 grams of total fat. Keep in mind, however, that a single serving of half and half is just one tablespoon which provides only 20 calories.
  • A single serving (one tablespoon) of heavy cream provides 821 calories, 5 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of sugar, 55 grams of saturated fat and 88 grams of total fat. A single serving of heavy cream is just one tablespoon which provides 51 calories.

If you are lactose intolerant, you might choose one of the many lactose-free milk varieties.

There are many choices to consider.

  • One cup of soy milk provides 108 calories, 6 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of saturated fat and 4 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of almond milk provides 93 calories, 1 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of sugar, 0 grams of saturated fat and 3 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of lactose-free milk (2 % low fat) provides 122 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, 3 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of coconut milk (canned)  provides 552 calories, 5 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of sugar, 51 grams of saturated fat and 57 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of rice milk provides 112 calories, 0.7 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 0 grams of saturated fat and 2.3 grams of total fat.

Healthiest Milk Options

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you include dairy foods in your diet every day. Dairy foods help to boost your calcium and protein intake for strong bones and muscles. The dairy food group includes fluid milk products and products made from milk.

As part of the ChooseMyPlate program, they recommend that you choose dairy foods that are fat-free or low in fat to minimize your saturated fat intake.

 They also recommend that you choose milk products without added sugars or sweeteners. 

Less Healthy Milk Options

Even though almost all milk products provide some calcium and other nutrients like protein, some milk products also provide added sugars. If you're trying to cut back on added sugars, you may want to limit your intake of these sweet dairy treats.

  • A single serving of chocolate milk (made from whole milk) provides 208 calories, 8 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrate, and 24 grams of sugar and 10 grams of added sugar. 
  • A single serving of strawberry-flavored milk provides 220 calories, 7 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrate, and 31 grams of sugar and 18 grams of added sugar.
  • A single serving (one cone) of ice milk provides 164 calories, 4 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrate, and 17 grams of sugar.

Milk alternatives (like non-dairy creamer for coffee) are another milk-like beverage that you may want to limit or avoid.  Many of these products are made from oil and corn syrup and provide none of the health benefits of milk.

Buying and Storing Milk

Milk is a perishable food. You should buy only as much milk as you will use within a short period of time. Before purchasing milk, check the "sell by" date on the container to be sure that it has not already passed.

When you bring milk home, the Dairy Council of California recommends that you keep it in a refrigerator at a temperature of 38-40 degrees. They also suggest that you keep milk away from the door of the fridge so that it stays cold. And never allow milk to sit out on a countertop.

And what if your milk reaches the sell-by date and there is some left in the container? According to the Council, it is still probably safe to drink. They say that if the milk still smells good, it is usually still safe to consume.

You can also freeze milk to make it last longer, although it might change the taste or texture of the product. Just remember that milk expands when frozen, so you need to leave extra room in the milk container to avoid a mess. And when you are ready to use it, thaw milk in the refrigerator or in cold water.