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Skim Milk vs. Milk: Which Is the Healthier Choice?

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If you're not a skim milk drinker, you're in luck. You don't have to choose skim to reap the health benefits of milk. However, the higher the fat content of the milk you're drinking, the more calories you'll be getting.

Benefits of Skim Milk

Choosing skim milk means you'll be getting all the same beneficial nutrients found in higher-fat milk, but with fewer calories. For example, a cup of skim milk contains just 90 calories, but whole milk provides 150 calories per cup. Therefore, if you're trying to shed pounds by reducing your calorie intake, choosing skim milk may be beneficial.

Benefits of Higher-Fat Milk

Whole milk may also provide you with substantial health benefits just like skim milk can. A study published in 2013 in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care found that dairy fat is associated with lower rates of abdominal obesity compared with lower dairy fat intakes. Another study published in 2014 in Nutrition Research also reports that whole-fat dairy foods significantly reduce the risk for obesity -- especially abdominal obesity.

Important Nutrients in Milk

Regardless of whether you choose skim, low-fat or whole milk, you'll reap nutritional benefits. All of these types of cows' milks are rich in vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorous, riboflavin and vitamin B-12. While the fat in whole milk is primarily saturated fat, which is often associated with an increased risk for heart disease, a study published in 2014 in Current Nutrition Reports found that saturated fat from dairy foods doesn't appear to affect heart disease risks like other types of saturated fat.

Bottom Line

Skim and higher-fat milks all provide you with substantial health benefits, and one type of milk may not be better for you than another. Skim milk is lower in calories, but higher-fat milk doesn't increase your risk for obesity based on research findings. As long as you get about 3 servings of milk or other dairy foods in your diet daily, which is the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, you'll reap health and nutritional benefits.

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An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as and

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