WHAT IS SKIM MILK?
Skim milk is a dairy product with an extremely low fat percentage. In some nations, skim milk is labeled as “fat free” milk, since many labeling laws allow foods with negligible fat contents to be labeled as “fat free”.
Most grocery stores and dairies stock skim milk, along with low-fat and whole milk products. For people who are concerned about the amount of fat in their diets, skim milk is an excellent alternative to whole milk, although some individuals do not enjoy the flavor.
Traditionally, dairy was allowed to sit after milking, to allow the fat to rise to the top. The fat was skimmed to make butter and cream products, and the remaining milk was consumed or processed into other foods like cheese. Modern dairy production uses centrifuges, since they are much more time efficient. After being centrifuged, the fatty part is used to make cream and butter, or it may be added back into the skimmed milk to raise the fat percentage.
As a general rule, products labeled as “skim milk” have less than 0.5% fat. Low fat or semi-skimmed milk has a fat percentage ranging between one and two percent. Many dairies label their one and two percent milk separately, giving consumers more options. Whole milk has a fat content of around 3.5%. Creams and butters, made from the fatty part of the milk, have a much higher fat content. A dairy may also choose to supplement its dairy products with useful vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D.
Most dairies pasteurize their milk products out of concern for safety. After separation into skim milk, whole milk, and other dairy products, the milk is also usually homogenized. Homogenization evens the consistency of the milk by reducing all of the particles in the milk to the same size. This prevents fatty solids from rising to the top of the milk as it sits. Because most milk is homogenized, making skim milk at home is essentially impossible, unless you have access to milk which has not been so treated.
As a general rule, skim milk will keep under refrigeration for five to 10 days. Always check the expiration date on milk and dairy products when you purchase them, and sniff dairy products when you open them to ensure that the contents have not spoiled. Skim milk can be used as a milk alternative in a wide range of foods, although the lower fat content may make it unsuitable for certain cooked dishes. Skim milk also tends to have a slightly watery flavor, which some consumers do not enjoy.
SKIM MILK: IS IT HEALTHY?
From a young age, you were programmed to believe that milk is healthy, but as you got older, you started questioning the differences between skim milk and whole milk. You know that skim milk is probably better for your waistline, since it contains virtually no fat, but is it really worth sacrificing the taste of whole milk and opt for the fat-free variety? Can skim milk provide the same nutrients as whole milk, and it is healthy? The answer to all these questions is simply, yes.
NUTRITION OF SKIM MILK
Skim milk is also labeled as fat free milk, and in order for milk to be considered skim, it must contain less than 0.5% milk fat. In comparison, whole milk contains 3.5% fat and over half of this fat is saturated. One cup of skim milk holds 90 calories, while whole milk delivers 145 calories a serving.
Skim milk consists of the following nutrients:
- Sodium – 130 mg
- Carbohydrate – 13g
- Sugars – 12g
- Potassium – 382mg
- Protein – 9g
- Cholesterol – Less than 1%
- Vitamin A – 10%
- Vitamin C – 4%
- Calcium – 30%
- Vitamin D – 25%
BENEFITS OF SKIM MILK
Skim milk has the obvious benefits of being kind to your waistline and not filling your body with fat or cholesterol. But, what about the nutritional potency of skim milk? Since the fat is removed, does this mean that vital nutrients are as well? While the fat content of skim milk decreases, the nutritional composition does not. In fact, some nutrients are actually increased during the fat removal process, such as protein, potassium and calcium.
DRAWBACKS OF SKIM MILK
While skim milk delivers a lot of vitamins and minerals, some of these vitamins are fortified. Whole milk naturally contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which skim milk lacks since the fat is removed. Therefore, manufacturers will add vitamin A and D, which isn’t quite as natural, but still beneficial.
After the fat removal process, sodium and carbohydrates are left behind, leaving the sodium and carbohydrate content higher in skim milk than in whole milk. Another disadvantage of skim milk is that it contains 12g of sugar, as stated above. While skim milk should be included as part of a healthy weight loss routine, you must keep in mind that it does contain sugar. Therefore, limit your consumption to a serving or two a day.
Another drawback of skim milk, and of all milk for that matter, is that many adults suffer from lactose intolerance and cannot consume skim milk without experiencing discomfort. However, some lactose intolerant individuals find they can handle skim milk with greater ease than with whole milk. If you are lactose intolerant, there are still options available that will enable you to reap all the health benefits of skim milk. You can opt for skim milk that is lactose free or indulge in light soy milk.
All drawbacks aside, skim milk is considered healthy and should be a part of your balanced diet. In comparison to whole or low-fat milk, it comes out on top and should be your milk of choice.
THE ADVANTAGES OF SKIM MILK
A healthy diet should include 3 cups of dairy products each day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, full-fat dairy products contain saturated fat, a type of fat associated with cardiovascular disease. Skim milk, also called nonfat milk, is a smart dietary choice because it’s low in fat. Each 1-cup serving of the milk contains just 0.2 grams of fat, including 0.1 grams of saturated fat — compared to almost 5 grams of fat in a cup of 2 percent milk.
Skim milk provides a rich source of protein, offering 8.3 grams of protein per cup. Your body needs protein for its amino acids. You use certain amino acids to regulate brain activity, and use combinations of 20 amino acids to synthesize the proteins that make up your cells and tissues. Your specific protein needs depend on your body weight, composition and activity level, but most people need 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight, according to Iowa State University. A cup of skim milk provides 14 percent of your daily protein requirements if you weigh 150 pounds, or 10 percent if you weigh 200 pounds. Because of its protein content, skim milk offers a nutritional advantage over some other beverages — for example, a glass of orange juice contains less than 2 grams of protein per cup.
CALCIUM AND BONE BENEFITS
Skim milk provides a source of calcium. Several tissues in your body — including your pancreas, muscles and nerves — need small amounts of calcium to function. Your bones and teeth also rely on calcium, since calcium makes up a part of the mineralized tissue that keeps your bones strong and hard. Drinking a cup of skim milk increases your calcium by 299 milligrams, providing 30 percent of your daily calcium requirements, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. While most dairy products naturally contain calcium, choosing skim milk over higher-fat dairy products might offer additional benefits for your bones. People who consume more saturated fat tend to have lower bone density, according to the University of Michigan.
VITAMINS A AND D
Milk naturally contains the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. During the skimming process, removing the fat from skim milk also removes these vitamins. To compensate, milk manufacturers fortify the milk with vitamins A and D. Choosing fortified skim milk allows you to get vitamins A and D without the saturated fat found in higher-fat dairy products. Vitamin D helps to ensure that your body can use calcium properly. It helps you absorb the calcium from milk and also helps your body transport calcium to the tissues that need it to function. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and also nourishes your immune system. A cup of fortified skim milk contains 500 international units of vitamin A and 115 IU of vitamin D. This represents 19 percent of your RDA for vitamin D, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, as well as 21 percent of the daily vitamin A requirements for women or 17 percent for men. Different brands of skim milk might contain slightly different levels of vitamins A and D, so always check the nutrition label.
SWITCHING TO SKIM
If you’re accustomed to the fuller flavor of 2 percent milk, switching to skim might take some getting used to. Try blending skim milk with fresh fruits for low-fat smoothies, adding ground flax seeds or nonfat Greek yogurt for added texture. Try a few simple recipe substitutions to introduce skim milk into your cooking. Instead of using cream in creamy pureed soups, try using skim milk and pureed potato to get the richness of cream without the fat. If you miss the thickness of cream in your coffee, try steaming skim milk; the thickened frothy milk feels richer than skim milk straight from the fridge.