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The Nutrition of Lowfat Milk

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You can reap several nutritional benefits by adding low-fat milk to your meal plan. This healthy beverage is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals -- and may help reduce your disease risks. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends getting 3 cups of milk in your diet daily when eating 1,600 to 3,200 calories per day.

Calories in Low-Fat Milk

Low-fat milk contains more calories than skim milk, but fewer calories than whole milk. A cup of 1-percent low-fat milk contains 110 calories, while 2-percent milk provides 130 calories per cup. In comparison, a cup of whole milk contains 150 calories, and 1 cup of skim milk provides 90 calories per cup. Original-flavored soy milk generally provides just 80 calories in each 1-cup portion.

Amount of Protein

An excellent source of protein, low-fat milk contains 8 grams of protein per cup. Whey and casein protein in low-fat cow's milk contains all essential amino acids your body requires daily, making low-fat milk an excellent source of high-quality complete protein. A review published in 2013 in Obesity Reviews notes that whey protein helps reduce your risk for obesity, boosts metabolism, helps you maintain lean muscle mass, improves blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and reduces your risk for developing heart disease. Soy milk, containing 8 grams of protein per cup, is also a source of complete protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Low-fat cow's milk is packed with bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous. It is also a source of riboflavin, vitamin B-12, and vitamin A. Soy milk is fortified with many of the same nutrients that are found in low-fat cow's milk.

Fat Content

Fat-free, or skim, milk is lowest in fat -- containing no dietary fat. One-percent low-fat milk contains 2.5 grams of fat, and two-percent low-fat milk provides 5 grams of fat per cup. The majority of fat in low-fat milk is saturated fat. Original soy milk contains 2.5 grams of fat, but no saturated fat. While getting too much saturated fat in your diet can increase your chance of developing high cholesterol and heart disease, the fat in milk doesn't appear to increase heart-disease risks and may even lower your risk, according to a review published in 2014 in Current Nutrient Reports.

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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 TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.

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