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Milks

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Mad about milk

Whether it’s with our morning cereal, in a child's lunchbox carton, or a quick splash in a cup of tea, for many of us, milk is an important part of our diet.

Recent research shows that 93% of people in the UK regularly consume fresh milk, and it’s now available in a wide variety of forms to suit different needs.

But, what’s the difference between them? Enjoy Food turns the spotlight on various milks to show you how they compare, so you can make an individual choice.

 

Milk and nutrition

Cow’s milk naturally contains calcium, which we all know helps to keep our bones and teeth strong - especially in our younger and older years. It also contains the naturally-occurring sugar, lactose, which you will be pleased to know isn’t one of the ‘free’ sugars we are advised to cut down on.

As well as this, cow’s milk contains protein, vitamins, and varying amounts of saturated fat depending on the one you choose.

Skimmed milk contains the least fat at 0.1g/100ml. However, you can also buy 1%, semi-skimmed, and whole milk. 

For heart health we're advised to reduce our intake of saturated fat, and total fat intake can contribute to weight gain as fat is dense in calories. So, try to choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk as much as possible. Remember, young children (under 2 years) need whole milk as they may not get the calories and nutrients they need from lower-fat versions. 

Skimmed milk should only be introduced to children over 5 years.

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Cow vs. goat milk

Goat’s milk has a similar composition to cow’s milk, with only a small difference in the sugar content.

It’s worth noting that it’s also slightly lower in calcium compared to cow’s milk, and contains significantly less folic acid.

Because of this, certain brand of goat’s milk may advertise that they are fortified with folic acid. 

More about folic acid

Why do we need it? Folic acid helps to form red blood cells and deficiency can lead to a type of anaemia. It also plays an essential role in the formation of DNA, allowing cells to replicate properly. This is crucial during the formation of a baby’s spine, and inadequate blood levels of folic acid during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida. 

This is when the milk is heat-treated to kill harmful bacteria. Children, pregnant women and older people are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning and should avoid ‘raw’, or unpasteurised milk. 

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Dairy alternatives

Dairy alternatives differ from cow’s milk in that most of them contain very little natural calcium – this means that buying the fortified versions is very important.

They also don’t contain lactose as this is only found naturally in dairy products.

As they're non-dairy, this makes them a good substitute if you follow a vegan diet, or have lactose intolerance. For more about lactose intolerance, scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

Choosing the right milk for you

So, how do you choose between the vast array of milks? We’ve put a selection of different types of milk under the spotlight to see how they compare, including cow's milk, goat's milk, dairy alteratives and related products so you can gain a better overview of the breadth of choice on offer.

Each one has been colour-coded for fat, sat fat, sugars and salt per 200ml (1/3 pint) serving. 

*These nutritional values were accurate at the time of publication, but some of these values may have changed. Please check the food labels for the latest nutritional information.

Oatly Oat Drink

This product has been fortified with calcium

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 90 45
Carbs 13g 6.5g
Sugar 8g 4g
Fat 3g 1.5g
Saturated fat 0.4g 0.2g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 2g 1g
Fibre 1.6g 0.8g
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Rice Dream - Original

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 100 50
Carbs 19.8g 9.9g
Sugar 14.2g 7.1g
Fat 2.2g 1.1g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.1g
Salt 0.14g 0.07g
Protein 0.2g 0.1g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium N/A N/A

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Alpro Soya - Original

This product has been fortified with calcium

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 78 39
Carbs 5g 2.5g
Sugar 5g 2.5g
Fat 3.6g 1.8g
Saturated fat 0.6g 0.3g
Salt 0.12g 0.06g
Protein 6g 3g
Fibre 1g 0.5g
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Alpro Soya - Light

This product has been fortified with calcium

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 44 22
Carbs 0.2g 0.1g
Sugar 0.2g 0.1g
Fat 2.4g 1.2g
Saturated fat 0.4g 0.2g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 4g 2g
Fibre 2.4g 1.2g
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Almond Breeze - Unsweetened

This product has been fortified with calcium

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 26 13
Carbs 0.4g 0.2g
Sugar 0.2g 0.1g
Fat 2.2g 1.1g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.1g
Salt 0.3g 0.15g
Protein 0.9g 0.5g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Alpro Almond - Original

This product has been fortified with calcium

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 48 24
Carbs 6g 3g
Sugar 6g 3g
Fat 2.2g 1.1g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.1g
Salt 0.26g 0.13g
Protein 0.9g 0.5g
Fibre 0.4g 0.2g
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Arla Lacto-free Long-life - Whole

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 114 57
Carbs 5.6g 2.8g
Sugar 5.6g 2.8g
Fat 7g 3.5g
Saturated fat 4.4g 2.2g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 6.8g 3.4g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 252mg 126mg

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St Helen's Semi-skimmed Goat's Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 88 44
Carbs 8.6g 4.3g
Sugar 8.6g 4.3g
Fat 3.2g 1.6g
Saturated fat 2.2g 1.1g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 6g 3g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 240mg 120mg

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Chi Coconut Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 62 31
Carbs 5.6g 2.8g
Sugar 5.2g 2.6g
Fat 4.2g 2.1g
Saturated fat 3.6g 1.8g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 0.6g 0.3g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium N/A N/A

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Coffee-Mate - Original

Per 100ml (3g + 100ml water) and per 200ml (6g + 200ml water)

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 37 19
Carbs 3.8g 1.9g
Sugar 0.7g 0.3g
Fat 2.2g 1.1g
Saturated fat 1.7g 0.8g
Salt 0.07g 0.03g
Protein 0.3g 0.1g
Fibre 0.6g 0.3g
Calcium N/A N/A

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Coffee-mate - Light

Per 100ml (3g + 100ml water) and per 200ml (6g + 200ml water)

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 28 14
Carbs 5.5g 2.8g
Sugar 1g 0.5g
Fat 0.4g 0.2g
Saturated fat 0.3g 0.2g
Salt 0.01g 0.01g
Protein 0.3g 0.1g
Fibre 0.6g 0.3g
Calcium N/A N/A

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Waitrose Duchy Organic Skimmed Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 74 37
Carbs 10g 5g
Sugar 10g 5g
Fat 0.6g 0.3g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.1g
Salt 0.24g 0.12g
Protein 7.2g 3.6g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 260mg 130mg

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Essential Waitrose Skimmed Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 69 35
Carbs 10g 5g
Sugar 10g 5g
Fat 0.2g 0.1g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.1g
Salt 0.3g 0.15g
Protein 6.8g 3.4g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 248mg 124mg

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Cravendale Semi-skimmed milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 98 49
Carbs 9.6g 4.8g
Sugar 9.6g 4.8g
Fat 3.4g 1.7g
Saturated fat 2.0g 1.0g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 7.2g 3.6g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 248mg 124mg

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Rachel's Organic Whole Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 134 67
Carbs 9.6g 4.8g
Sugar 9.6g 4.8g
Fat 7.8g 3.9g
Saturated fat 3.2g 2.6g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 6.2g 3.1g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 238mg 119mg

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The One 1% Milk

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 86 43
Carbs 9.8g 4.9g
Sugar 9.8g 4.9g
Fat 2g 1g
Saturated fat 1.4g 0.7g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 7.2g 3.6g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 254mg 127mg

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Marvel Dried Skimmed Milk - Original

*A pint of 568ml is made with 57g of the powder and water.

  Per 200ml*  Per 100g
Calories 71 357
Carbs 10.1 50.3
Sugar 10g 49.8g
Fat 0.1g 0.6g
Saturated fat <0.1g 0.4g
Salt 0.2g 1g
Protein 7.2g 35.9g
Fibre 0.2g 1.3g
Calcium 256mg 1280mg

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Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk

  Per 50ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 80 160
Carbs 6g 12g
Sugar 6g 12g
Fat 4.5g 9g
Saturated fat 3.1g 6.1g
Salt 0.16g 0.33g
Protein 3.9g 7.7g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 135mg 270mg

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Nestle Carnation Light Condensed Milk

  Per 50g serving Per 100g
Calories 140 279
Carbs 30.2g 60.4g
Sugar 30.2g 60.4g
Fat 0.1g 0.2g
Saturated fat 0.1g 0.1g
Salt 0.15g 0.3g
Protein 4.5g 8.9g
Fibre N/A N/A
Calcium 156mg 312mg

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So, what does the nutritional breakdown tell us?

Dairy milk

It's good to know that, as the calcium is water soluble and therefore reducing the fat content does not mean you get less calcium. In fact, there is. There is little difference between organic and regular cow's milk in terms of the nutrition; some organic milks have slightly different amounts of fat and vitamins depending on what the animal has eaten. People may choose organic milk as a lifestyle choice rather than a dietary one.

Soya milk

Looking at the colour coding for all of the milks, some of the information may, or may not, surprise you. The ingredients list reveals more about the nutritional composition - quality, quantity, and range of nutrients. For example,(4 vs 8%). This affects how much protein there is in the milk and also some vitamins and minerals.

Lactose-free milk

You might think that lactose-free milk contains no sugar, however, the lactose is partially broken down into two simple sugars. It's due to these that lactose-free milk tastes sweeter.

Oat and rice milk

The oat and rice milks we chose here contain no added sugars - any sugars present are naturally occurring from the starches present in rice and oats. It is worth checking the ingredients list if you are choosing a different brand.

Have you thought about salt?

It's worth noting the salt content - although the amount didn't cause any to be graded red, or even amber, for salt. But, we know that 75% of the salt we consume is within foods produced outside the home - if you are an avid milk drinker, this could soon add up.

Powdered creamers

Coffee mate is not derived from dried milk in the same way as dried milk powder, and therefore does not contain lactose. It's worth noting that it does contains some milk protein and is. It also contains free sugars and corn or palm oil.

Condensed and evaporated milk

Though more popular in previous decades, these milks are still used in some cultures to sweeten hot and cold drinks, and have traditionally been added to desserts instead of cream or custard. While there is a lighter version of condensed milk, this is an example of whereThis is despite the small serving size - where 50ml of semi-skimmed milk would contain only 25kcal and 0.85g fat, regular condensed milk offers 161kcal and 4g fat. Choosing semi-skimmed, therefore, could provide an impressive saving. 

Both are high in calories, and the original versions are high in fat. 

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a medical condition and you should speak to your healthcare team if you think this is a problem for you. Symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps and flatulence. You can self-diagnose by eliminating lactose-containing products from your diet and checking whether symptoms improve.

It is important that when eliminating dairy foods, the nutrients are replaced to avoid deficiencies - for example, lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis. Therefore, seeing a dietitian can ensure your diet is nutritionally balanced. Lactose intolerance is not the same as cow’s milk protein allergy. This is an immune response, most commonly occurring in young children or babies. There are different forms of allergy and, if you suspect this, talking to your GP or healthcare team is really important. 

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Searching for a snack?

Before reaching for the nearest treat, consider this...

We compared a glass of semi-skimmed milk to a standard chocolate bar so you can easily see the healthier choice. By choosing the milk, you could save yourself a whopping 142 calories and 10.1g of fat.

  Per 200ml serving Per 100ml
Calories 90 45
Carbs 13g 6.5g
Sugar 8g 4g
Fat 3g 1.5g
Saturated fat 0.4g 0.2g
Salt 0.2g 0.1g
Protein 2g 1g
Fibre 1.6g 0.8g
Calcium 240mg 120mg

 

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