Which is healthier: Skim or whole cow's milk?

Cow’s milk is a source of many essential nutrients — and a fixture in many of our diets.

This delicious dairy beverage is packed with the critical calcium and vitamin D our bodies need. And shoppers can choose from many different types, including 2 percent and fat-free, or skim, as it’s frequently called.

When it comes to milk, skim may seem like the healthier option: It offers nutrients without excess calories. But is skim milk really better than whole?

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The Basics of Milk

At the farm, all cow’s milk starts about the same way.

During the manufacturing process, milk is sorted by fat percentage through a machine called a “centrifuge.” This machine divides the milk into whole and skim categories, along with 1 and 2 percent, by spinning containers of milk at forces as high as 5,000 to 10,000 times that of gravity. Then the processed liquids are separated into different containers.

Nutritional Value of Milk

Skim milk contains fewer calories and fat than that of whole milk:

  • A glass of whole milk is roughly 150 calories and contains 4 grams of fat per 8 ounce serving.
  • A glass of fat-free or skim milk contains roughly 90 calories and nearly no fat per 8 ounce serving.

Low-fat milk is ideal for weight loss because it contains fewer calories. But there’s a catch: You may feel like you need to drink more skim milk to feel full, which can add unexpected calories to your diet.

Skim Milk or Whole Milk?

The process of making skim milk removes fatty cream, but also removes fat-soluble vitamins D, A, E, and K. Skim milk can contain lower amounts of many essential nutrients, though many brands can add back some vitamins, such as A and D.

Unless your doctor has recommended a low-fat dairy diet, you can simply choose what you like at the grocery store — either whole or skim milk will do. Both types of cow’s milk offer vitamins and minerals. Whole milk is great for gaining lean muscle, while skim is a good option for shaving off calories.