Is There Sugar in Milk?

There’s nothing quite like a cold glass of milk. It’s smooth, refreshing and just right on its own or with a meal or a snack. Aside from how good it tastes, milk has nine essential nutrients like high-quality protein in every serving, and there’s no added sugar in milk.

In a world of ever-expanding options on what to feed your family, choosing dairy milk means you’re picking a drink with no artificial ingredients and one that’s rich in nutrients. What you get in a glass of milk: B vitamins for energy, protein for lean muscle, vitamin A for a healthy immune system and five bone-building nutrients, including calcium and potassium. In all, milk provides essential nutrients and is one of the original farm-to-table foods.

Meeting the nutritional needs of your family might feel like a challenge, but milk ranks right beside water as the two main drinks that are best for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, in a joint policy statement, endorsed policies to reduce kids’ consumption of sugary drinks, which are the primary contributor to added sugars in children’s diets.

Key among the organizations’ recommendations is that “healthy drinks such as water and milk should be the default beverages on children's menus and in vending machines.” The policy statement also states that flavored milks are not considered to be sugary drinks.

Is Sugar Added to Milk

As a mom, you want to know which milk has the least amount of sugar when you’re stocking your refrigerator. It’s easy to make a great choice because all white milk has the same sugar content, whether it’s whole milk, low fat milk (also known as 2% milk) or skim milk (also known as fat free milk).

No sugar is added to regular white milk, regardless of fat content. The creamy, delicious taste of milk comes from simple ingredients: just milk and vitamin A and vitamin D. The approximately 12 grams of natural sugar (lactose) in an 8-ounce serving comes from naturally occurring lactose, and it’s part of a nutrient-dense beverage that delivers vitamins and protein.

You’ll also find naturally occurring sugars in 100% juice beverages, but those sugar levels tend to be much higher than the sugar content in milk, and the juices have fewer nutrients than milk. An 8-ounce glass of 100% apple juice, for example, can have more than 20 grams of sugar compared to about 12 in the same size glass of milk, and the juice has no naturally occurring nutrients. Milk delivers nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein in each 8-ounce glass.

How Much Sugar Does Chocolate Milk Have?

Flavored milk options often include some added sugars, in addition to the natural lactose found in milk. Low fat chocolate milk has 13 grams of added sugar, in addition to the natural lactose, for a total of 25 grams of sugar. Flavored milk, which the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association do not consider to be a sugary drink, also counts as a serving of dairy and provides the same nine essential nutrients in each serving as white milk.

How Much Sugar Is in Whole Milk

Milk comes in several varieties, depending on fat content: whole, low fat and skim. Regardless of the type of milk you choose for yourself and your family, sugar in whole milk is the same as it is in low fat and skim milk.

Whole milk has a higher fat content and more calories than lower fat milks, but the level of naturally occurring sugars is steady across all variations of white milk. With about 12 grams of natural lactose and no added sugar, the sugar content in an 8-ounce serving of milk is nearly equal to the amount of natural sugar in one small banana.

How Does Non-Dairy Milk Compare?

Many types of these non-dairy milks, like almond milk or soy milk, are flavored or sweetened and contain added sugar, which is not the case with real milk. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredient list and check for what has been added; often you’ll find “sugar” and similar listings of cane sugar or cane juice, which are also added sugars.

Is the Sugar in Milk Bad for You?

If you wonder whether the sugar content in milk is bad for you, the answer is no. It’s part of a well-balanced diet for you and your kids. Plenty of foods and beverages with naturally occurring sugars, like fresh fruit or milk, also have vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein that’s essential to help your kids grow healthy and strong.