The Truth About Sugar In Milk


Sugar in Whole Milk and Other Types of Milk

What’s the real story about sugar in milk? Is there a difference between the sugar in skim milk or fat free milk compared to the sugar in whole milk?

The fact is, regular white milk has NO added sugar. The sugar in milk comes from naturally occurring lactose – no sugar is added to your milk.

Read more to learn the facts about the sugar content in milk.

Does Milk Have Sugar?

Yes. The sugar in milk comes from naturally occurring lactose, not added sugar. This is true if you are buying whole, lowfat or skim milk (also known as fat free milk). In fact, milk is one of the simplest foods you can buy – just milk, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Is There Added Sugar in Skim Milk?

No. Just like all white milk, there is no added sugar in skim milk. The sugar in milk comes from lactose and while fat levels vary, all milk (fat free, lowfat, 2 percent or whole milk) has the same amount of natural lactose – about 12 grams in each 8-ounce glass.

Does Almond Milk Have Sugar?

Most types of non-dairy milk, like almond milk or soy milk, are flavored or sweetened and have added sugar, while real milk does not. Look at the ingredient list for what’s added. Check the ingredient list – in addition to “sugar,” ingredients like cane sugar or cane juice are also added sugars.

How Much Sugar Is in Milk?

There’s about 12 grams of natural sugar (lactose) in each 8-ounce glass, which is about the same amount of natural sugar you would find in 1 small banana.

Is There More Sugar in Skim Milk Than Other Types of Milk?

No. Lower fat milks, like skim or fat free milk, have less calories and fat than higher fat options, but all white milk has the same amount of naturally occurring sugars, with no sugar added.

Is Sugar Added When Milk Is Pasteurized?

No. Besides vitamins A and D, there’s absolutely nothing added to milk in the pasteurization process. Pasteurization is a simple heat treatment that keeps milk safe to drink, without adding anything to the milk.

What Is the Difference Between Sugar in Juice or Juice Drinks and Milk For Kids?

Juice is not a replacement for milk in kids’ diets, and fruit juice drinks often have added sugars and little, if any, nutritional value. Even some 100% juices can have very high levels of naturally-occurring sugar with few nutrients. For example, a glass of 100% apple juice can have more than 20 grams of sugar (compared to about 12 in a glass of milk) and no naturally occurring nutrients. Milk has no added sugar plus nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein in each 8-ounce glass.

In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting fruit juice for kids (4 to 12 ounces per day, depending on the kid’s age), while encouraging more milk. They recognize milk as a great way for kids to get their bone-building nutrients – even more so than supplements or alternatives like vegetables or fortified milk alternatives like, soy – or almond-based beverages.

What About the Sugar Content in Flavored Milk?

There are many options in the dairy case. Most flavored milk options will include some added sugars, in addition to the natural lactose in milk. There are many choices with different amounts of sugar, including reduced sugar options if you’re looking to limit your sugar intake.

Is the Sugar in Flavored Milk Bad for Me? Is it Bad for My Kids?

While nutrition experts recommend limiting added sugar in the diet, it’s important to look at the full nutrient package when selecting a food or beverage. In fact, research shows that flavored milk contributes just 3 percent of added sugars to kids’ diets versus sodas and fruit drinks, which account for close to half of the added sugar and deliver much less, if any, nutritional value. Additionally, studies show that children who drink flavored milk do not consume more added sugar in their diets, but that they do drink more milk overall and meet more of their nutrient needs. Plus, just like white milk — chocolate milk offers important nutrients for kids’ growth and development, like protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

Is the Sugar Content in Milk Bad for You?

No. As part of a well-balanced diet, experts suggest looking at the full nutrient package when making food choices, and avoiding foods with high levels of added sugars but limited nutrient value. Many foods and beverages with naturally occurring sugars like milk or fruit contain vitamins and minerals, protein or fiber we need. For example, milk contains nine essential nutrients including 8 grams of high-quality protein in every cup.

Learn More About Sugar and Milk

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010

Read more about expert advice on the recommended 3 daily servings of milk, and advice to limit nutrient-voice added sugar choices.

Chocolate Milk Myths Busted

Does chocolate milk come from brown cows? Learn the truth about common myths about chocolate milk.

Top 5 Facts About Milk

Not everything you read about milk is true. Decades of nutrition research show how valuable milk is – so don’t let skeptics lead you astray.