Does Chocolate Milk Ruin a Healthy Diet?

The good definitely outweighs the bad when it comes to this favorite childhood beverage. It's so good that if you abandoned chocolate milk as a teenager, you might want to consider adding it back to your diet. While the old adage "too much of anything is a bad thing" holds true for chocolate milk, mostly because of the chocolate syrup, enjoying it every once in a while will allow your body to reap its health benefits.

Is Chocolate Milk a Healthy Choice? (Image: HandmadePictures/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Yes, chocolate milk makes a healthy addition to any diet. It's high in calcium, vitamins A and D, potassium and protein. To keep calories and saturated fat in check, use low-fat or nonfat milk when making your sweet, chocolaty cup of milk.

Vitamins and Disease Prevention

Chocolate milk contains nine essential nutrients and vitamins; most notable are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that helps strengthen bones and prevents bone ailments, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and tooth decay. Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, strengthening the bones, but also helps in preventing cancer, diabetes and hypertension. According to a study published in the "Epidemiology and Infection" journal, vitamin D may ward off the flu by strengthening your immune system. One cup of 2 percent fat chocolate milk contains 45 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D and 30 percent of calcium's RDA; more if you use chocolate syrup fortified with calcium.

Benefits for Skin

Another benefit of chocolate milk is the effect it has on your skin. Vitamins A and B-6, potassium and the proteins in milk help strengthen skin while maintaining its smoothness. A cup of chocolate milk provides 9 grams of protein and 10 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for skin health as it helps the skin retain water, deterring wrinkles, and increases production of new skin cells, which replace old damaged cells. In addition to the skin, these benefits also apply to your hair.

Post-Workout Drink

One aspect of chocolate milk that differentiates it from other beverages is its superior benefits as a post workout beverage. A 2006 study published in "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" concluded chocolate milk performed as well if not better than other sports drinks in helping the body recover after a workout. The combination of the 8 grams of protein from the milk and carbohydrates from the chocolate syrup allow the body to rebuild muscle tissue and refuel energy supplies more efficiently.

Reaping the Benefits

As healthy as chocolate milk is, you should always be cautious not to overdo it. One of the reasons chocolate milk tastes so good is because it can contain up to 30 grams of sugar in 1 cup, and too much sugar can lead to weight gain. Also, 1 cup of whole-fat milk has about 8 g of saturated fat, which you should always be wary of. To minimize risk, enjoy chocolate milk in moderation, choose low-fat or nonfat milk, and use chocolate syrup made with natural sugar rather than artificial sweeteners.

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