Adults and kids take in about 400 calories per day as beverages, according to the USDA’s Choose My Plate program. Beverages can be a key source of nutrients, and when it comes to nutrition, moms want to make informed choices for themselves and their kids.
With so many options available, it’s no surprise moms have questions. Some moms choose to serve alternatives to milk rather than real dairy milk, but it’s important to know that milk and non-dairy alternatives are not created equal. In fact, these beverages differ in five key areas: nutrition, ingredient list, added sugars, price and taste.
1. Farm-fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient-rich.
Unlike many non-dairy milk alternatives – farm fresh, real dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich. Milk naturally provides calcium, phosphorus, high-quality protein, potassium and B vitamins. It is also fortified with vitamins A and D, creating a nutrient powerhouse of nine essential nutrients. Non-dairy milk alternatives, on the other hand, vary in their nutritional profiles, some containing little to no naturally occurring nutrients, so most are fortified.
2. Dairy milk is simple.
When you compare the ingredient list of milk to non-dairy alternatives, you may be surprised to find that many alternatives have 10 or more added ingredients, including salt, sugar or thickeners like gums. Dairy milk, a minimally processed and farm-fresh beverage, has just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A and vitamin D.
3. There are no added sugars in regular dairy milk.
When you look at the nutrition label on a gallon of milk, you will find sugar listed. However, that sugar is not added – it’s naturally occurring lactose. But people may not realize when a food or beverage has added sugar. For instance, many types of non-dairy milk, like almond milk, contain added sugar. Ingredients like cane sugar or cane juice on the ingredients list indicate sugar has been added to non-dairy milk.
4. Dairy milk can help stretch your grocery budget.
At just about a quarter per serving, milk delivers more nutritional value per penny than just about any other beverage. Compare that to almond milk, at about $0.45 per 8-ounce serving, and other non-dairy alternatives like rice milk that can cost as much as $0.79 per serving.[i] The average American household spends about 10 percent of their budget on food – nearly $80 a week for groceries. One year of dairy milk will cost the average family $628 vs. $1,222 per year for vanilla almond milk. That’s nearly $600 per year in savings.[ii]
5. Dairy milk has the taste kids – and chefs – love
Milk is the foundation for many classic recipes and tastes from around the world. From creamy macaroni and cheese to classic alfredo sauce and delectable creme brulee, milk adds dimension, accentuates flavor and serves as a decadent base to many of your favorite dishes. If you want to swap real dairy milk for another ingredient, remember that each non-dairy milk alternative has a different flavor, which can change the flavor profile or the consistency of your dishes, even for pancakes, oatmeal and smoothies.
To learn more about the differences between milk and non-dairy milk alternatives, visit milklife.com/knowyourmilk.
2 Based on the recommended 3 daily servings of milk and milk products and an average family size of 2.58 people per the 2010 US Census. Additional Reference: U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Summary.