In this modern-day and age, it’s normal to find yourself asking questions about the foods you consume – questions like “is chocolate milk good for you?”
Milk is a beverage that’s mostly hit or miss. It’s like Marmite in drink form. Some people love it. Others hate it.
That said, few people dislike chocolate milk. It’s one of those cases where adding one or two things is enough to transform something completely unremarkable into something absolutely delicious.
In fact, chocolate milk is even promoted as an excellent substitute for cow’s milk as a calcium and vitamin D source for children who despise regular milk.
It is even recommended as a way to recover from working out.
With that said, chocolate milk contains a lot of sugar. As a result, its nutritional value and viability as a substitute for milk are still unclear.
This article is meant to answer the question: is chocolate milk good for you?
Nutritional Facts of Chocolate Milk
Is chocolate milk good for you? Let’s start by taking a look at its composition and the nutrients it offers.
Simply put, chocolate milk is just cow’s milk combined with cocoa and some form of sweeteners like sugar or corn syrup.
Naturally, this means that chocolate milk has more carbs than regular cow’s milk. However, it doesn’t lose any of its base nutrients when you add sugar and cocoa.
Here’s what one 240-ml cup of chocolate milk contains:
- Calories: 180–211
- Protein: 8 grams
- Carbs: 26–32 grams
- Sugar: 11–17 grams
- Fat: 2.5–9 grams
- Calcium: 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin D: 25% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 24% of the RDI
- Potassium: 12% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 25% of the RDI
- Chocolate milk also contains smaller amounts of zinc, selenium, iodine, magnesium, and vitamins A, B1, B6, B12.
According to the Dairy Council of California, all flavored milk varieties have the same nutritional value as unflavored milk.
In particular, chocolate milk contains the same amount of calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B, and D as regular milk.
Milk is well known as one of the best sources of calcium. The USDA states that one cup of chocolate milk contains 401 milligrams of calcium.
However, it’s worth noting that the amount of calcium will vary depending on the brand you choose.
According to the National Institutes of Health, one great thing about drinking chocolate milk is that one cup provides a third of the daily calcium requirement, which is between 1,000 and 1,300 milligrams for adults.
Furthermore, the USDA also notes that one cup of chocolate milk contains 149 calories and has 7.99 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, 130 milligrams of sodium, 2.5 grams of fat, 499 milligrams of vitamin A, and 101 milligrams of vitamin D.
Even though some people would be quick to assume that chocolate milk is full of empty calories, it is mostly untrue.
While the fact that it contains sugar makes it less healthy than regular cow’s milk, it still has good nutritional value.
The Dairy Council of California states that not all sugar found in chocolate milk is added sugar.
In fact, 12 grams of said sugar comes from lactose, which is a natural type of sugar found in milk, while only 10 grams is added sugar.
Is Chocolate Milk Good for You?
So, is chocolate milk good for you?
The short answer is a resounding yes.
Why is chocolate milk good for you?
Let us tell you about its benefits!
Vitamins and Disease Prevention
As we mentioned above, chocolate milk has nine key nutrients and vitamins.
Two of the most important ones are calcium, and vitamin D. Calcium helps with bone strength and growth.
It also helps prevent bone diseases such as tooth decay, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
As for vitamin D, it improves calcium absorption while helping prevent cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.
A study regarding the matter was published in the “Epidemiology and Infection” journal. It showed that vitamin D strengthens your immune system and can help you avoid getting the flu.
Why is chocolate milk good for you in this case?.
Well, having one cup of 2 percent fat chocolate milk supplies your body with 45 percent with the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin D as well as 30 percent of the RDA of calcium.
Benefits for the Skin and Hair
Because chocolate milk contains vitamin A and B-6, proteins, and potassium, it is good for maintaining skin health.
Drinking one cup of chocolate milk gives you 9 grams of protein and 10 percent of the RDA for vitamin A.
Vitamin A is known to be beneficial for skin health as it helps it retain water and prevent wrinkles.
Furthermore, vitamin A increases skin cell regeneration and replacement.
It is also worth mentioning that these benefits extend to your hair as well.
Benefits for Bone Health
Everyone and their mother know that milk is great for your bone health. Chocolate milk is no different.
In fact, it is one of the best sources of calcium in the United States and Canada. Dairy constitutes 72% of the average person’s daily calcium intake.
Researchers correlate that dairy is consistently linked to strong bone development in children and adolescents because the calcium found in it is easily absorbable.
Furthermore, milk is rich in other nutrients that are beneficial for bone growth, such as phosphorus, proteins, and vitamin D.
All in all, milk, and chocolate milk by extension, contains many nutrients that are associated with healthy bone development and reduced risk of bone disease.
While it might seem counterintuitive given how chocolate milk contains added sugar, research has shown that it is indeed a good post-workout drink.
There was a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” in 2006 that found chocolate milk to be a great post-workout drink.
It performed as well as other sports drinks in helping with body recovery.
This is mainly due to the combination of the 8 grams of protein in milk and carbohydrates found in the chocolate syrup, which help rebuild muscle and rejuvenate the body.
For all the cynics and skeptics who think this whole piece is just an excuse to drink chocolate milk, this is for you.
Why is chocolate milk good for you?
It’s very delicious! Jokes aside, chocolate milk is one of the few things that are delightfully tasty while also being nutritious and healthy.
Is Chocolate Milk Good for You After a Workout?
Chocolate can be used as a great pre-and post-workout drink for the following reasons:
Gain More Lean Muscle
As we mentioned earlier, chocolate milk is rich in protein.
One cup contains around 8-11 grams. That’s about half the recommended amount to consume after a workout, which is around 13-25 grams.
It’s also worth mentioning that chocolate milk has two times of proteins, one that is fast-acting and another that takes some time to be released.
This means that drinking chocolate milk not only helps with quick body recovery but also builds up endurance.
Strengthen Athletic Performance
If you’re wondering what you should drink after a workout to boost your performance, consider drinking chocolate milk.
Some studies have shown that drinking low-fat chocolate milk can be more effective than drinking a carbohydrate sports drink.
Two of the most well-known ways to replenish electrolytes are bananas and Gatorade.
However, not a lot of people know that chocolate milk has both of them beat in that department.
In fact, chocolate milk has more potassium than bananas as well as a higher level of electrolytes than Gatorade.
The ultimate post-workout beverage would be a banana-chocolate milkshake for extra potassium and a great taste.
You’ll Boost Your Energy.
One cup of chocolate milk provides you with the same amount of carbs as a Gatorade Endurance drink.
It also helps rejuvenate energy after a tiring workout while also building muscles thanks to the protein found in milk.
Optimal 3:1 Carb-to-Protein Ratio
One of the things that give chocolate milk an edge over many sports recovery drinks is its carb-to-protein ratio.
Furthermore, A cup of chocolate milk has 8 grams of high-quality protein that you won’t find in most sports recovery drinks.
Chocolate Milk: Drawbacks
Is chocolate milk really good for you?
Even though it has a lot of health benefits, drinking it on a regular basis without moderation can be unhealthy. Here are some of its drawbacks:
Rich in Added Sugars
The added sugar used in chocolate milk is high-fructose corn syrup.
This type of sugar is not only responsible for half of the carbs in chocolate milk, but it’s also linked to diabetes and obesity.
The recommended threshold of daily added sugar consumption as per the American Health Association is 100 calories for women and children and 150 calories for men.
As we mentioned before, one cup of chocolate milk has 11-17 grams of added sugar, which is half of the daily threshold for women and children and third for men.
Make sure that you consume chocolate milk in moderation as not to exceed this threshold and reap the health benefits of it without risking exceeding your daily threshold of added sugar consumption.
Not Everyone Can Tolerate It
Unfortunately, there are people in this world that can’t experience the full joy of drinking chocolate milk.
This is because chocolate milk contains a natural sugar known as lactose.
Lactose intolerance is a common condition where people have trouble digesting lactose.
This results in gas, stomach aches, cramping, or diarrhea whenever they consume dairy products.
Furthermore, people can be allergic to milk.
This results in them developing chronic constipation after drinking it. Children tend to experience this more than adults.
May Contribute to Heart Disease
Since chocolate milk is rich in added sugars and saturated fat, consuming too much of it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
The research was done comparing the effects of added sugar consumption on the risk of heart disease.
It has shown that consuming 17-21% of calories from added sugar increased the risk of heart disease by 38% in relation to consuming less than 8% of calories.
Furthermore, added sugar is linked to elevated heart disease risk among children because it increased body fat and calorie intake.
It also increases other heart disease risk factors as bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease is being investigated by experts.
Most studies confirm a link between diets that are high in saturated fat and elevated risk factors of heart disease.
With that said, not all types of fat are equally harmful. In fact, research has shown that substituting saturated fat with other fats can actually end up being healthy for your heart.
Such research includes a 20-year study that found that replacing fairy fat with polyunsaturated fat decreased heart disease risk by 24%. Polyunsaturated fat is most commonly found in foods like nuts.
Furthermore, another study was conducted, showing that replacing even 1% of calories from unsaturated fats with the same number of calories from unsaturated fats, plant proteins, or whole grains is enough to reduce heart disease risk by 5-8%.
Drawbacks of Chocolate
So far, we mostly talked about the milk and added sugar in chocolate milk.
Now, it’s time to take a look at the defining ingredient of this delicious drink: chocolate. Let’s take a look at some potential drawbacks of chocolate.
Low in Vitamins and Minerals
When it comes to nutritional value, chocolate isn’t really known as being nutritious. In fact, it has very little in the way of minerals and vitamins.
Chocolate only provides 8 percent of the daily suggested intake of calcium and only 2 percent of the daily suggested intake of chocolate.
When it comes to calorie density, chocolate is very dense. One 1.55-ounce bar of milk chocolate houses 235 calories.
This is considered on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to other food snacks.
To put it into perspective, the same-sized serving of beef jerky contains 124 calories. That’s almost half!
It is widely known to avoid consuming high-calorie foods as it can quickly lead to obesity. Furthermore, the effort required to burn off those calories is often huge.
For example, it would take you 57 minutes of weightlifting or 43 minutes of water aerobics to burn just 210 calories.
Imagine having to go through that every time you decide to eat a chocolate bar.
High Saturated Fat Content
We mentioned earlier that chocolate milk is rich in saturated fat. Well, most of that saturated fat comes from chocolate.
Each time you eat a 1.55-ounce serving of chocolate, you’re basically ingesting 8.14 grams of saturated fat.
Keep in mind that saturated fat can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
This doesn’t mean that you should completely cut off anything that has the smell of saturated fat in it.
The American Heart Association suggests people limit their daily consumption of saturated fat to 16 grams.
One last thing that is worth noting is that while dark chocolate contains more saturated fat, Harvard Medical School states that the fat found in it comes from the cocoa butter.
As a result, it doesn’t raise cholesterol levels like milk chocolate’s fats.
How to Choose the Perfect Chocolate Milk
Now that we answered the question: “is chocolate milk good for you?” It’s time to take a look at how you can pick the best chocolate milk.
While the nutritional value that comes from chocolate milk doesn’t vary too much from one brand to the next, it is still worth considering.
This is because some brands use natural sweeteners, while others use artificial ones. Make sure you avoid anything that is artificial in your drink.
Always make sure that whatever you’re drinking or eating has clean ingredients.
In the case of chocolate milk, keep an eye for any additives, artificial sweeteners, or anything that might be unhealthy.
On the other hand, added vitamins and minerals are always a good thing, so keep an eye out for those too.
Texture & Taste
Drinking chocolate milk is not only about the health benefits. It’s mostly about the refreshing taste and texture.
This is why it should be considered when you’re looking for the best chocolate milk to drink.
So, Is Chocolate Milk Good for You?
The main difference between regular cow’s milk and chocolate milk is the added sugar. Both drinks boast the same nutritional value and health benefits.
However, it’s worth noting that the added sugar in chocolate milk makes it something you should only drink moderately.
If you’re looking for the short answer to the question “is chocolate milk good for you?” then the answer is yes, as long as you keep your added sugar consumption in check.