Thursday, 13 November 2008 | Tags: ,

Milk is an excellent source of calcium, carbohydrates, and protein, and also good for rehydration. But buying milk these days can be complicated, between various fat contents, specialty milks, organics, and more. We check out some milk options to find out how the differences measure up to taste.

The Basics

  • Many people drink milk for its calcium and other nutritional benefits. Kids can benefit from added fat in their diets, so serve whole or at least 2% milk for those growing bones.

  • Milk is also high in Vitamin A and Vitamin D. One cup of milk has almost 50% of your daily recommendation for Vitamin D.
  • Skim milk, also called “fat-free milk” or “non-fat” milk, has less than 0.5% milk fat. 

  • Low-fat, semi-skimmed milk or “1% milk” has between 1 and 2% milk fat.

  • If you drink skim or 1% to cut down on fat, you’re still getting the same amount of calcium as 2% or higher: about 300 mg per cup.

  • Milk in clear containers can lose up to 70% of its riboflavin and vitamin A after just one day. Buy milk in cardboard or solid-coloured plastic containers to help block the nutrient-leeching culprit: UV light. 

  • Milk production in Canada is highly regulated. No growth hormones are ever used on dairy cows.
  • New types of specialty milk include:

    • Calcium-enriched, which has additional 200 mg per cup (for 500 mg total)

    • Omega-3 has these heart friendly fatty acids added.

    • Acidophilus Bifidus (AB) has this beneficial bacteria added to milk to help keep your digestive system healthy.

    • Certified organic milk is from cows fed only organically grown crops. It won’t necessarily taste any better, but you avoid the hormones and antibiotics that may be used in the production of non-organic milk. Of course, it costs more.

    • Microfiltered milk has the same nutritional benefits as regular milk, but a unique pasteurizing and microfiltering process makes it smoother and creamier tasting, and gives it a longer shelf life.

Other Considerations

  • CLA (Conjugated Linolaic Acid) is a beneficial trans fat that some studies have found to prevent some cancers and allergies. In the summer milk is fattier and you will get more CLA, so cool down with a cold glass of milk!

  • Kids love chocolate and other flavoured milk, but many parents think the added sugar is not as healthy. Surprisingly, the amount of sugar in one glass of chocolate milk is about the same as a glass of unsweetened orange juice!

  • Powdered milk is milk that has had all the moisture removed. It has a longer shelf life and can easily be reconstituted with water.

  • You can freeze milk as long as you leave enough room in the container to allow for expansion. However, freezing can cause the milk to separate and change its texture. Stir well after thawing.
  • If you are allergic to cow’s milk, try sheep or goat’s milk. Cow’s milk has very large proteins, which are what usually cause the allergic reaction. Sheep and goat milk have much smaller protein, similar to that of human milk, and making for easier digestion.

Cooking Tips

  • When adding milk to a hot recipe, it’s best to heat the milk up a bit first because adding cold milk to hot liquid can cause the milk to curdle.

  • Never add cold milk or cream to a boiling liquid. You’ll make a mess and will have to start over again.


For our series The Shopping Bags, We worked up a thirst with a tennis team and refreshed ourselves with these four different types of 2% milk to see which one tasted best.

  • Local: $2.99 per 2L
  • Calcium-Enriched: $3.19 per 2L
  • Filtered: $3.79 per 2L
  • Organic: $5.99 per 2L

Taste Test

  • The organic milk had a thicker and creamier taste, which didn’t appeal most of us.

  • Some of us chose the micro-filtered for its smoothness and texture.

  • Others liked the regular local dairy milk – it was a little thinner and not so rich tasting.

  • We all agreed that there was a funny taste to the calcium-enriched milk – kind of like cardboard.


We decided that the milk you choose comes down to a matter of personal preference: thicker vs. thinner, creamier vs. less rich tasting, added nutrients, organic, and more. And remember, even if you’re a grown-up, milk is packed with plenty of nutritional benefits.



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