Milk Matters

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

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

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

Moreover, a study in a recent issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that male endurance cyclists who drank chocolate milk after an intense workout recovered more effectively than cyclists who sipped a sports beverage. The theory is that chocolate milk's balance of protein and carbohydrates is an efficient way to refuel after exercise. This is nothing new to nutritionists and coaches. Also intriguing, researchers in New Zealand are investigating the benefits of drinking chocolate milk after exercise as a way for older people to maintain and improve muscle mass. Looks like I should enjoy my childhood treat for a lifetime.