Milk Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Milk

Milk annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

You've heard that milk does a body good. But you may wonder which type of milk is best for your healthy diet and what kind of milk should you drink if you are trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Find out how to gain the health benefits of milk in your diet.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (8 ounces) of 2% low fat milk.

  • Calories: 137
  • Fat: 4.9g
  • Sodium: 145mg
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 11g
  • Protein: 9.7g

The number of calories in milk depends on the kind of milk that you choose to drink and the amount that you consume. Low-fat milk (2 percent milk) is one of the most popular varieties of cow's milk. It provides less fat than whole milk but has a creamier taste and texture than skim milk.

Carbs in Milk

The sugar lactose provides all of the carbohydrates in milk. These are nutrition facts for different varieties of milk, based on USDA data. Knowing them might help you better pick which milk is best for you.

  • One cup of skim milk provides 83 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of fat.
  • One cup of 1 percent milk provides 102 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of fat.
  • One cup of whole milk provides 149 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, 8 grams of total fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.
  • One cup of half and half provides 315 calories, 7 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of sugar, 17 grams of saturated fat and 28 grams of total fat. Keep in mind, however, that a single serving of half and half is just one tablespoon which provides only 20 calories.
  • One cup of heavy cream provides 821 calories, 5 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of sugar, 55 grams of saturated fat and 88 grams of total fat. A single serving of heavy cream is just one tablespoon which provides 51 calories.
  • One cup of buttermilk provides 11.7 grams of carbohydrate.
  • One cup of evaporated (canned) milk provides 25.3 grams of carbohydrate.
  • One cup of nonfat evaporated milk provides 29 grams of carbohydrate.
  • One cup of sweetened condensed milk provides 166 grams of carbohydrate.

Some milk products also provide added sugars. If you're trying to cut back on added sugars, you may want to limit your intake of these sweet dairy products including chocolate milk, strawberry-flavored milk, or ice milk, which have between 10 and 18 grams of added sugar per serving.

If you are lactose intolerant, you might choose one of the many lactose-free milk varieties. There are many choices to consider. Note that many substitutes are sweetened with other forms of sugar unless you look for unsweetened varieties.

  • One cup of lactose-free milk (2 percent low fat) provides 122 calories, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of sugar, 3 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of soy milk provides 108 calories, 6 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of saturated fat and 4 grams of total fat. Unsweetened almond milk may have only 2 to 5 grams of carbohydrate.
  • One cup of almond milk provides 93 calories, 1 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of sugar, 0 grams of saturated fat and 3 grams of total fat. Unsweetened almond milk may have only 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrate.
  • One cup of coconut milk (canned) provides 552 calories, 5 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of sugar, 51 grams of saturated fat and 57 grams of total fat.
  • One cup of rice milk provides 112 calories, 0.7 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 0 grams of saturated fat and 2.3 grams of total fat.

Fats in Milk

Milk is marketed by its fat content, making it easier to choose between different percentages. As part of the ChooseMyPlate program, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you choose dairy foods that are fat-free or low in fat to minimize your saturated fat intake. Over half of the fat in milk is saturated fat. One-quarter of the fat is monounsaturated fat, and a minor amount is polyunsaturated fat. There are 183 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per cup of whole milk and 293 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids. Whole milk also has 24 milligrams of cholesterol per cup.

Protein in Milk

Milk is a good source of protein, with 8 grams per cup. Milk proteins contain all nine essential amino acids that humans need. Whole milk has 82 percent casein protein and 18 percent whey protein. These separate when milk coagulates, as is done to make cheese. These protein isolates are used in many other food products.

Micronutrients in Milk

Milk is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. It is also a good source of selenium, potassium, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and zinc.

Health Benefits

The USDA recommends that you include dairy foods in your diet. Dairy foods help to boost your calcium, protein, and vitamin D intake for strong bones and muscles. They note that including dairy products in your diet is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults. The dairy food group includes fluid milk products and products made from milk, such as yogurt. They also recommend that you choose products without added sugars or sweeteners and those lower in fat.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Milk is a perishable food. You should buy only as much milk as you will use within a short period of time. Before purchasing milk, check the "sell by" date on the container to be sure that it has not already passed. Keep it refrigerated at 38 to 40 degrees. As long as it smells good it is usually still safe to consume.

Milk can be enjoyed as a beverage on its own or added to hot and cold beverages such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and smoothies. Milk is often used as a base for gravy or sauces. You can also make your own yogurt from milk.

Try these ways to enjoy milk:

When using milk in cooking, you can take steps to keep it from curdling. Milk should be warmed before being added to a hot liquid. The sauce should be simmered and not allowed to come to a boil. You can stabilize the milk emulsion with a starch such as flour or cornstarch. You should also avoid adding strong acids to a milk emulsion, such as wine, tomatoes, or lemon juice.

Allergies and Interactions

Milk allergy is very common for both children and adults. It affects about 3 percent of all children, with many of them outgrowing it by adulthood. The specific components of milk that trigger allergies include lactoglobulins found in whey and components found in casein. A milk allergy can cause a wide array of symptoms including skin reactions, gastrointestinal discomfort, airway problems, and even severe reactions such as anaphylaxis.

Many people have lactose intolerance because they lack an enzyme to break down the lactose sugar in milk. They can have gas, bloating, intestinal cramps, and diarrhea when they have milk.

Your doctor or pharmacist may recommend avoiding taking certain drugs with milk as the calcium may interfere with being able to absorb the drug. One example is the antibiotic tetracycline.

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