Nyman: Make the move to chocolate milk

Americans lead busy, active lifestyles and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. While being busy may be the new American way, an active lifestyle should not interfere with healthy eating. Refueling your body to help it perform better and get key nutrients is as simple as drinking chocolate milk.

Sir Hans Sloan is credited with the invention of chocolate milk in the early 1700s by adding cocoa to milk. However, chocolate milk’s roots may go back to the late 1400s when Jamaicans brewed a hot beverage with freshly harvested cocoa, milk and cinnamon. No matter when it was truly invented, chocolate milk has evolved into a creamy, delicious beverage now found throughout the United States.

Despite its popularity, the health benefits of flavored milk are occasionally called into question. Parents may look at chocolate milk with suspicion, unsure if it has a healthy spot on the family table. Fact is, chocolate milk contains all the same nutrients as white milk and provides significant health benefits.

Milk offers high quality protein and one-third of the recommended daily intake of calcium in each one-cup serving. Milk also is one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium to create strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.

However, with food labels listing added sugars on foods and drinks, parents also may worry about potential empty calories. While flavored milks contain additional sugar, most provide only 60 more calories than an 8-ounce serving of white milk. And according to national consumption surveys, flavored milk accounts for only 2% of all added sugars in children’s diets.

Chocolate milk also receives praise from athletes and coaches as a post-workout recovery beverage. Chocolate milk is a cost-effective option when it comes to recovery because of the unique combination of fluid and electrolytes for hydration, protein for muscle repair and the small amount of sugar to replenish energy stores. With its quick and portable access, chocolate milk is a great way to get the nutrients needed after intense practices and workouts.

Monica Nyman is a senior nutrition educator for the St. Louis District Dairy Council. Get dairy-rich recipes or additional information about the council at www.stldairycouncil.org.

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