Plain or flavored, milk gains well-deserved nutritional respect.
Credit: Randy Mayor

My grandmother knew the benefits of a glass of milk, especiallyfor growing kids. She also spoiled us by serving only chocolatemilk. To this day, when I reach for a single-serving carton ofmilk, it's always chocolate. It turns out Grandma was on tosomething, and chocolate milk has gotten some respect lately.

Milk and other dairy products are the best source of dietarycalcium. An eight-ounce glass of milk delivers about 300 milligramsof calcium, which means drinking a few glasses a day goes a longway toward fulfilling the recommended daily intake of 1,000 to1,200 milligrams. And offering kids (or grown-ups) chocolate milkis a fine way to accomplish the goal, according to the AmericanDietetic Association. A glass of nonfat milk with chocolate syrupnets about 50 more calories than plain skim milk.

Moreover, a study in a recent issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and ExerciseMetabolism found that male endurance cyclists who drankchocolate milk after an intense workout recovered more effectivelythan cyclists who sipped a sports beverage. The theory is thatchocolate milk's balance of protein and carbohydrates is anefficient way to refuel after exercise. This is nothing new tonutritionists and coaches. Also intriguing, researchers in NewZealand are investigating the benefits of drinking chocolate milkafter exercise as a way for older people to maintain and improvemuscle mass. Looks like I should enjoy my childhood treat for alifetime.