Is Whole Milk Better Than Low Fat and Skim Milk?

Recent research suggests that skim milk may not be the best option for health. While many of the official guidelines have urged avoiding entire milk, they could be an excellent option to supplement a nutritious diet.

Milk is among the most nutritious drinks in the world, and that’s the reason it is often the main ingredient for school lunches and it’s a favorite drink among people of all ages.

For decades, guidelines on nutrition have recommended dairy products with low-fat products for anyone who is more than two years of age. In recent years, scientists have put this suggestion into doubt ( 1Trusted Source).

This article will examine how different kinds of milk compare to help you decide which is the most suitable choice.


Different kinds of dairy milk including whole Fat, Whole, and skim

Many kinds of milk are available in the dairy aisles at the majority of grocery stores, which differ mostly in the amount of fat they contain.

Whole milk is often called “regular milk” because the amount of fat it contains has not changed. Skim milk and 1% milk are made by the removal of fat from whole milk.

The amount of fat is measured in percentages of total liquid weight. Below is the percentage of fat in the most popular milk brands:

  • Whole milk 3.25 percent milk fat
  • lower fat milk 1 % milk fat
  • skim lower than 0.5 percent milk fat

The table below summarizes the nutritional content in one cup (237 milliliters) of different varieties of milk ( 2Trusted Source3Trusted Source4Trusted Source):

Skim milk low fat milk whole milk

Calories84 106 152

Carbs12 grams 13 grams 11.5 grams

Protein8.5 grams 8.5 grams 8 grams

Fat0.2 grams 2.5 grams 8 grams

Saturated fat0.1 grams 1.5 grams 4.5 grams

Omega-3 fat acidsZero grams 0.01 grams 0.04 grams

Calcium25% of the DV 24% of the DV 24% of the DV

Vitamin D14% of the DV 13% of the DV 12% of the DV

Phosphorus21% of the DV 20% of the DV 20% of the DV

Since fat has higher calories than other nutrients, milk that has greater fat content is more nutritious in calories ( 5Trusted Source).

Although each kind of milk is able to provide a comparable quantity of micronutrients, the amount of Vitamin D will vary little. However, since the majority of milk producers contain vitamin D in their milk, each type generally has an equal volume ( 6Trusted Source).

Another important difference in the nutritional content among milk types is the quantity of omega-3 fats, which is a kind of fat that has been associated with numerous health benefits, such as better brain and heart health and a reduction in inflammation. The more fat a cup of milk contains, the higher the amount of omega-3 in it ( 7Trusted Source Trusted Source).

Furthermore, research has shown that organic milk has more omega-3s than conventional whole milk. But, this difference is usually seen within “grass-fed” milk, which is generally organic and always so. If you’re looking for more omega-3s in a serving, be sure you’re purchasing grass-fed milk ( 8Trusted Source9Trusted Source10Trusted Source).


The main difference between the kinds of dairy milk that are offered is the fat content. Whole milk has more fat and calories than skim milk.

Whole milk: Is it harmful?

Since time immemorial, nutrition guidelines have been encouraging individuals to avoid drinking whole milk, mostly because of the saturated fat quantity.

The majority of nutrition guidelines recommend limiting saturated fats as they may increase cholesterol levels and are an important risk factor for coronary heart diseases ( 11Trusted Source).

Based on this research, Experts based their conclusions that saturated fats could cause an increase in the chance of developing heart disease. But, there was no research-based evidence to show that this was so ( 12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

In the 70s, public policy was implemented based on the assumed connection between saturated fats and heart problems. Therefore, the general guidelines advise individuals to cut down on their intake of saturated fat ( 12Trusted Source).

A cup (237 milliliters) of milk has 4.5 grams of saturated fat. This amounts to approximately 20 percent of the daily allowance suggested in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To avoid this, the guidelines suggest drinking only skim or milk with a low amount of fat ( 4Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

In recent times, this advice has been challenged. The latest research suggests that consumption of moderate amounts of saturated fats does not directly contribute to heart health ( 14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).


In the past, whole milk was thought to be unhealthy due to its saturated fat content, but new research doesn’t completely support this conclusion.

What should you be aware of about saturated fat?

Those who have elevated cholesterol or coronary disease might have to follow the advice of their physician and be aware of the consumption of saturated fats. However, it is still taken advantage of as a part of an enlightened diet for those who do not suffer from either of those conditions.

Numerous studies indicate that an increase in consumption of saturated fat isn’t directly related to a higher risk of developing heart disease and heart attack, stroke, or death due to heart disease ( 16Trusted Source17Trusted Source18Trusted Source).

Initially, researchers believed that saturated fat raised blood cholesterol levels. This then increased the likelihood of developing heart disease. However, the connection between cholesterol and saturated fat is more complex.

While saturated fat can raise the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, It also boosts the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which may help to prevent heart conditions ( 19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

Furthermore, there are various kinds of LDL, and it’s the tiny and thick particles of LDL that have the most detrimental impacts on the arteries and heart. While saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels, they also alter LDL from small, dense particles to larger, less damaging particles ( 21Trusted Source22Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

In addition, studies suggest that certain foods that are high in saturated fat could affect heart health in different ways. For instance, a review found that yogurt and cheese were linked to lower risks of heart disease, whereas butter and red meat were linked to greater chance ( 23Trusted Source).

This is why it’s crucial to look at the nutritional composition of a food ingredient rather than focusing exclusively on the specific nutrients it’s made up of (24 Trusted Source).


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