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Milk is a Great Source of Protein, Too!


Milk and milk products are known for their calcium, but are also a good source of protein and other nutrients

Most people know that milk is a great source of calcium. Unfortunately the connection between milk and calcium has been so well taught, many people don't know about the other important nutrients found in milk and milk products. Protein is one of them. 

In my work with vegetarians, finicky eaters, and others who struggle to plan nutritionally balanced diets, the question of how to get good sources of protein always comes up. When I point out the protein content of milk, yogurt, and cheese, they are always surprised those foods can supply protein and calcium at the same time. 

The truth is, most foods provide an array of different nutrients. But in an effort to make menu planning easier, nutrition educators have grouped foods according to the key nutrients they contain. For example, milk became known for its calcium, orange juice for its vitamin C, and meat for its protein. That strategy obviously had some drawbacks when it came to learning about the other nutrients those foods contain. 

So for those who need more protein in their diets and are not able to get it all from meat and meat substitutes, such as beans, nuts and soy products, milk is your go-to source. Milk is also a good source of Vitamins A, B2, B12, and D and a good source of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in addition to calcium. 

Ways to Add Milk Products into Your Meals

A big advantage in using milk products to bulk up your protein intake is how easily they can be combined with other foods without taxing your appetite.  For just a few ideas, you can add powdered milk to fluid milk, use evaporated milk to make "creamed" soups, blend strained yogurt into mashed potatoes, melt cheese onto your vegetables, stir ricotta cheese into pasta before adding sauce, or whip cottage cheese to use as a base for a cream sauce. 

Protein Content of Milk Products                                                                                                                                                                                   One cup portion used for easy comparison                                                                                                                         

grams protein                                  

28           Cheese, shredded: American, Cheddar, Mozzarella                            

28           Cottage Cheese: low fat or full fat                                                         

28           Ricotta Cheese: part skim or full fat                                                       

24           Powdered Milk, instant: fat free                                                             

22           Greek (strained) Yogurt, plain: fat free or reduced fat        

19           Evaporated Milk, canned: fat free or reduced fat                               

14           Yogurt, plain: fat free or low fat                                                             

11           Milk Plus: fat free                                                                                       

  8           Fluid Milk: fat fee, low fat, reduced fat and whole   

See related articles:

Getting Enough Protein From the Foods You Eat

Protein in the Diet – How Much is Enough?