4 Health Benefits of Skim Milk

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Skim milk is one of the most popular varieties of milk on the market. If you are someone who wants to know more about it and indulge in this type of milk, then read ahead.

What is Skim Milk?

Skim milk is obtained after removing all the fat from whole milk. It is also known as fat-free milk or nonfat milk as it is a lower calorie and low-fat version of traditional full-fat milk. The majority of low-fat milk is fortified with vitamin A and vitamin D since these fat-soluble vitamins are often lost when the fat is extracted from whole milk. [1]

Unlike what many people believe, skim milk contains the majority of nutrients of regular milk and is not “watered down”. While it does lack some of the flavors of whole milk, it can be an important alternative for people who are struggling with obesity. In the past, nonfat milk was made by allowing regular milk to sit and separate – allowing the high-fat cream to rise to the top, where it could be “skimmed” off the top and removed. Today, it is typically made through a process of centrifugal separation, in which most or all of the fat molecules are separated from the remainder of the milk. The milk is then homogenized, preventing any additional separation between the molecules, as they are all made of the same size.

2 bottles fresh skimmed milk with orange striped straws and a slice of lime kept on a wooden table

Skimmed milk is acquired by removing all the fat and cream from the milk. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Milk, fat free (skim)
Serving Size :
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.08
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]4.96
Energy 34
Water [g]90.84
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]5.09
Calcium, Ca [mg]122
Iron, Fe [mg]0.03
Magnesium, Mg [mg]11
Phosphorus, P [mg]101
Potassium, K [mg]156
Sodium, Na [mg]42
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.42
Copper, Cu [mg]0.01
Selenium, Se [µg]3.1
Retinol [µg]61
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]61
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.01
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]1.2
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.18
Niacin [mg]0.09
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]5
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.5
Choline, total [mg]15.6
Folate, food [µg]5
Folate, DFE [µg]5
Cholesterol [mg]2
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.06
4:0 [g]0
8:0 [g]0
10:0 [g]0
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0.01
16:0 [g]0.03
18:0 [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.02
18:2 [g]0
18:3 [g]0
16:1 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0
Sources include : USDA [2]

Skim Milk Nutrition

There are many critical nutrients in skim milk, including a significant amount of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, and potassium. In vitamins, it is rich in vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, B12, and D,  as well as thiamine and folate. A cup of skimmed milk has 8 grams of high-quality, complete protein, which contains all essential 9 amino acids required for growth and development.  It is low in calories and has a very low level of cholesterol and fat. [3]

Skim Milk Calories

According to the USDA, 100 g of skim milk contains about 37 calories. [4]

Health Benefits

The most important benefits of skim milk include its ability to build and maintain lean muscle, lower risk of osteoporosis, strengthen teeth, boost weight loss, improve cholesterol levels, among others.

Lean Muscles

Skim milk is a rich source of protein, which is responsible for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. This is very important for people with obesity. [5]

Calcium, which is found in high levels in this milk, is integral to muscle and overall nervous system function. This critical electrolyte level must be maintained for normal activity. [6]

Growth & Development

Low-fat milk contains a good amount of protein, which helps in the proper growth and development of bones, muscles, cells, and tissues. [7]

Heart Health

As compared to whole milk, skim milk contains a very low amount of saturated fat. Also, with its low cholesterol levels, skim milk can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, and thus protect against other cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. [8]

Bone Mineral Density

The rich density of minerals is ideal for boosting bone strength and reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis at a young age, helping you feel strong as you age. [9]

Blood Pressure

There is a good amount of potassium in skim milk, which can help to control blood pressure by relieving strain and tension in blood vessels and arteries. [10]

Common Myths about Skim Milk

Skim milk has been glorified for a long time but researchers have found that some of the benefits are too good to be true.

In terms of weight loss, the European Journal of Nutrition says that high-fat milk is not correlated with obesity, which means that shifting to skim milk is not necessarily leading to weight loss. [11]

While many people suggest having skim milk for managing diabetes, a 2018 comparative study suggests that there is no difference in the fasting blood lipids, glucose, or insulin levels when whole milk is consumed. In fact, whole milk can actually prove beneficial for people with normal cholesterol levels. [12]

Types of Skim Milk

The different types of skim milk are:

  • Non-fat dry milk: It is a powdered form of skim milk that lacks water and cream.
  • Concentrated skim milk: It is nonfat milk from which a certain amount of water has been removed. This gives the milk a thicker consistency. It is also a more concentrated source of protein, natural sugar, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Reconstituted skim milk: It is non-fat dry milk with water added to it, forming the consistency of regular milk.
  • Organic skim milk: This is made from milk that comes from cows that are not treated with synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics, and given only organic feed.

Skim Milk Vs Fat-Free Milk Vs Whole Milk

  • Fat content: Most skim milk has 0-0.5% fat, whereas whole milk has roughly 3.25% fat (roughly 8 grams per cup) and none of the fat is removed before it is pasteurized and homogenized. [13]
  • Cholesterol: There is about 24 mg of cholesterol per cup in whole milk, whereas skim milk has about 5 mg of cholesterol.

The other nutrients found in these milk varieties remain basically the same, although vitamin A and vitamin D in low-fat milk tend to be synthetic, rather than natural. The other types of milk available in the dairy aisle include reduced-fat milk which has 2% fat and low-fat milk which has 1% fat. They are also known as 2% reduced-fat milk and 1% low-fat milk respectively.

Drawbacks of Skim Milk

Despite the obvious reduction in fat, calories, and cholesterol, there are some disadvantages to drinking this milk, which include:

  • Lowered nutrient absorption: Although low-fat milk is often fortified with vitamin A and vitamin D, synthetic vitamins are not always as readily absorbed by our body, which means that you may not be getting the full benefit of these vitamins when you choose to use skim milk over whole milk. [14]
  • OvereatingOne of the best things about whole milk is its ability to satiate your hunger, thanks to the fat content it possesses. Without that, low-fat milk is unable to quell your hunger pangs, which could lead you to eat less healthy snacks or overeat.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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