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Got Chocolate Milk?

By Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom

Did you know that most teenagers (and adults!) don’t get enough daily calcium? For most people that’s about 1,000 mg per day – about 3 servings of dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese (low or non-fat if you please!). Dark green vegetables can also make a modest contribution, but it takes nearly 3 cups of broccoli to equal the calcium in an 8 ounce glass of milk.

The steepest drop in dairy intake is the start of the teenage years. Enter 1% chocolate milk, popular in Pittsburgh area schools, where it’s offered in all 24 school districts in Allegheny County. In fact, about 80% of the milk consumed at lunch is the low-fat chocolate variety. The extra sugar in low fat chocolate milk – about 50 calories – is a cause for concern from some nutrition policy groups, who don’t like the message that “a few extra calories” don’t matter, and connect it to the expanding waistlines of teens and adults. But for those who just don’t like the taste of plain milk, low fat chocolate milk can make a big difference.

With nearly a third of the daily requirement for calcium, low-fat chocolate milk can be a tasty part of a healthy diet at any age. It’s all about moderation. Choose chocolate milk once a day, and save those 50 calories someplace else!

And if you’re looking to refuel after an intense workout, new evidence continues to support low-fat chocolate milk as an effective and economical choice, providing the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.