Whole milk is packed with nutrients, is used in baking, and is beneficial for toddlers due to its higher fat content. While whole milk is rich in saturated fat, milk fat might not be unhealthy for you as once thought. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest getting 3 cups of dairy foods, such as milk, daily when eating between 1,600 and 3,200 calories per day.
Whole milk contains 150 calories in each 1-cup serving. Seventy of the calories in whole milk are from fat, as whole milk is a higher-fat type of milk. In comparison, 2-percent low-fat milk provides 130 calories including 45 calories from fat, and skim milk contains just 90 calories, none of which are from fat.
Whole milk, like low-fat milk, is a good source of dietary protein and contains 8 grams of protein per cup. The protein in whole milk is mainly from casein and whey proteins, and provides all essential amino acids, making whole milk a source of complete protein. Men need at least 56 grams of protein daily and women need a minimum of 46 grams per day, which are the protein recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for adults. Athletes, older adults, and people recovering from surgery, injury, or illness often need additional protein.
Carbs and Fat
A cup of whole milk contains 12 grams of total carbohydrates including 11 grams of natural sugar and 8 grams of fat. Five of those 8 fat grams are from saturated fat, and the rest is heart-healthy unsaturated fat. A cup of whole milk also contains about 25 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. While saturated fat may increase your risk for heart disease if you consume too much of it, milk fat may not be as bad as once thought. It doesn't appear to increase heart-disease risks and is associated with a lower risk for obesity, according to a review published in 2013 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Vitamins and Minerals
Whole milk is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It's rich in calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A, B vitamins, and iodine. Therefore, drinking whole milk is beneficial for healthy bones and teeth, and helps you meet daily vitamin and mineral needs. If you're worried about getting too many calories from whole milk, choose low-fat milk instead, which contains the same amount of vitamins and minerals as whole milk but with fewer calories.
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 TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.