Nutrition Insight
Article

Know Your Milks

Monday, April 13, 2015

Milk is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide (although in Asia milk is not widely consumed). It’s consumption can be in many forms – yoghurt, yoghurt smoothies, cheese, ice cream, cream, flavoured milk, in coffee and of course as plain milk.

Whether you’re serving milk as a beverage or using it in the preparation of your menus it’s important to know what milks are available. Plant based milk alternatives have increased in popularity as consumers become more health conscious and seek out new options. Plant based milk alternatives won’t have the same exceptional nutrition profile as cow’s milk and in many instances will be fortified with vitamins and minerals to match that found naturally in cow’s milk.


  • Know Your MilksRegular or full-fat milk: on average this is 3.8% milk fat. It’s pasteurised and homogenised and also known as full-cream or whole milk.
  • Reduced-fat milk: has approximately 2% milk fat and may have extra protein and calcium added. Low-fat milk: has less than 1.5% milk fat but with the same nutritional benefits and often a boosted calcium content.
  • Skim milk: has no more than 0.15% milk fat.
  • Modified milk: these milks may be protein-enriched, high in calcium, iron-fortified or low in lactose to cater for a range of dietary needs.
  • Ultra-high temperature-treated (UHT) milk: this milk is treated to very high heat to allow the milk to be stored for long periods of time.
  • Lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk: has some or all of the lactose (the sugar found naturally in milk) removed, making it more easily digested for those with lactose intolerance.
  • Buttermilk or cultured milk: has a tangy flavour similar to natural yogurt and is excellent for baking. A special starter culture is added to the pasteurised milk to develop the flavour and acidity.
  • Flavoured milk: flavours are added to full-fat, reduced-fat, skim, modified or long-life milk. While they may have added calcium they can also have a higher kilojoule level. Some may be sweetened with low kilojoule sweeteners.
  • Fortified milk: may be full or reduced-fat milk that has had nutrients added such as calcium, vitamin D, plant sterols or omega-3 fatty acids. This is in addition to the nutrients naturally found in milk.
  • Soy milk: plant based milk alternative found with a range of fat contents similar to full cream, low fat or skim cow’s milk. It is also lactose free. Check it is fortified with calcium if using as an alternative to cow’s milk.
  • Rice milk: a very low protein, low fat, lactose free, plant based milk alternative. Check it is fortified with calcium if using as an alternative to cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk (unsweetened): plant based milk alternative that is lower in protein, and energy than cow’s milk. Check it is fortified with calcium if using as an alternative to cow’s milk.