Milk Cheat Sheet

by Erin Brown


Milk is one of the most highly regulated foods in America.

One of the best things about the dairy case at your local store is that there is something for everyone, but having so many options can be overwhelming if you don’t know what all of your options are.

Milk is one of the most highly regulated foods in America. All types of milk are equally wholesome and safe to drink.

Check out this cheat sheet to help you navigate the dairy case and choose the option that’s right for you.

  • Whole Milk: Contains 3.25% fat by weight — the closest to the way it comes out of the cow. Vitamin D is added to most milk to enhance the absorption of calcium.
  • 2% or 1% Milk (also known as reduced-fat or lowfat milk): Fat and calorie levels are reduced in these versions, but they have the same complete nutrition package as whole milk.
  • Fat-Free Milk (also known as non-fat or skim milk): From slender cows. Kidding. Fat-free milk has no more than 0.2% milkfat. So it’s the lowest in calories but again, has all the same nutrients as whole milk.
  • Organic Milk: From cows fed an organic diet. It is the process that makes this milk organic, not the product. The nutrient content in is the same as in conventional milk and offers the same health benefits.
  • Lactose-Free Milk: Lactose is the naturally-occurring sugar in milk. Think you’re lactose intolerant? Try lactose-free milk (real milk without the lactose). It tastes great and provides the same levels of calcium, potassium, vitamin D and more.
  • Dairy Alternatives: You might see non-dairy milk options, including almond, soy, rice and coconut. Many milk alternatives are fortified to mimic the nutrient profile available in cow’s milk. Non-dairy alternatives, such as almond and soy, contain more added ingredients, including salt, syrups, thickeners and sugars. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, is pure and simple.

As you can see, there is truly something for everyone! I hope this cheat sheet helps you as much as it has helped me.

Erin Brown

Erin is the Communication Manager for the American Dairy Association Mideast and a Jersey cow enthusiast. When Erin's not at the office or working on her parent's dairy farm in southeastern Ohio, you'll find her hanging out with her husband, a large animal vet, and their Australian Shepherd puppy.

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