Home ยป The ugly truth about 2% dairy

The ugly truth about 2% dairy

2% fat is negligible, right?


Skim milk contains no fat while 2% milk contains 5 grams of fat per cup — 3.1 grams of which are saturated fat; 35% of the calories in 2% milk are from fat.

I have really neat diagrams in my office — one showing hidden sugars and one showing hidden fats. As soon as I can visually show someone the difference between the healthfulness of skim vs. 2% milk, the battle has been won (sorry, no picture…I’ll take one next week!)

Saturated fat should comprise NO MORE than 7% of daily caloric intake; 15.5 grams of saturated fat in a 2,000 calorie a day diet or 12 grams of saturated fat in a 1,500 calorie a day diet.

Saturated fat is naturally present in meat and dairy products. Milk fat, butter, lard, meat marbling, and animal fat are all examples of saturated fat. Saturated fat is also found in many commercially prepared foods such as potato chips, pastries, condiments, and snack foods. It’s every where and most American’s consume too much!

Excess saturated fat intake can increase total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels — no good! And in all honesty, the lower one’s saturated fat intake the better.

The labeling of 2%, while not inaccurate, is once again deceiving. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products should be fat-free (ideally!) and low-fat (if not fat-free!), in order to keep saturated fat intake low.

For example, consuming 2 glasses of 2% milk each day — 6.2 grams of saturated fat — is nearly half of the recommended intake for many individuals. Ouch! Choosing fat-free dairy is a great way to decrease saturated fat intake and keep cholesterol levels healthy!

Question: Did you realize how much saturated fat was in 2% milk? Be honest!

What % fat milk do you typically buy?

Have a great weekend! Any fun plans?

P.S. Yesterday’s Q&A was a hit and I’ll give a weekly or bi-weekly Q&A a shot, per reader requests! Email your burning nutrition questions to [email protected]! 😉

Share With Your Friends!


  1. January 15, 2010 / 6:29 am

    Good stuff!!! Always good for people to hear and to serve as a reminder! Happy Friday!!!!!

  2. January 15, 2010 / 6:41 am

    I honestly don’t drink milk very often, and no, I didn’t realize how much fat was in it.

  3. January 15, 2010 / 6:56 am

    I did know that, but I sure was surprised the first time I heard it.

  4. January 15, 2010 / 7:22 am

    thank you for the info!! I only buy skim or almond or soy milk, so I think I am all set ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. January 15, 2010 / 7:47 am

    Thanks for the great info. Just so I am not confused, should I buy 2% cheese? If not, what should I buy? Hope you have a great weekend!

    • January 15, 2010 / 8:03 am

      Kristin- Yep! Low-fat or 2% cheese!

  6. January 15, 2010 / 8:00 am

    Man…I can’t even remember the last time I had 2% milk! I drink soy milk and almond milk now, and before that, I was a skim girl all the way!

  7. January 15, 2010 / 8:07 am

    Didn’t know that about the saturated fats. I drink 2% and skim milk (depends on who buys it in our household). Oh and soy milk too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. eaternotarunner
    January 15, 2010 / 8:11 am

    I had no idea! I only drink skim though, just because I like the taste better.

  9. January 15, 2010 / 8:22 am

    Hey Nicole! Small world of RDs. I have written some articles for Melissa and Super Kids Nutrition. She’s great! And I love what she’s doing with SNK – you too, with the curriculum! Have a great weekend!

  10. January 15, 2010 / 9:08 am

    Wow…I had no idea! I used to be a skim milk girl, but I actually am not a big milk person anymore. I DO, however, eat 1 or 2 yogurts a day (almost always 0% Chobani). I know others asked this above….but is it the same for cheese?

    This weekend = football!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. January 15, 2010 / 9:08 am

    Never mind…I need to read better! I see you answered above. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. January 15, 2010 / 9:26 am

    But milk is soooo good ;)! I did make the switch from 2% to 1% when I saw how many WW points it cost me. But I can not move down to skim. I need real milk on a regular basis :).

    What’s the difference from whole milk (what my father would love to have all the time) down to 2%?

  13. January 15, 2010 / 9:29 am

    very interesting!! I’ve grown up drinking 2% milk and that’s all my fiance will drink. He probably drinks a half gallon a DAY! Is 1% milk any better? Or is skim milk the only way to go?

  14. January 15, 2010 / 10:10 am

    Wow…thank you!! I didn’t know any of that! I always buy skim but I like the taste of 2% better ๐Ÿ™

  15. January 15, 2010 / 11:02 am

    I dont drink milk all that much – but I always assumed 2% was just fine.
    I had no idea there was that much fat hiding in my 2% milk.

  16. January 15, 2010 / 11:46 am

    Wow, I actually did not realize just how much fat there is in 2% milk…that’s crazy! I typically buy either 1% or 2% (depending on what has a longer expiration date, since we only really use milk for our cereal). I’ll stick with either 1% or skim though from now on! Thanks for the info!

  17. January 15, 2010 / 12:38 pm

    I’m definitely a soy milk fan, so I don’t have to worry about which milk to buy. However, lately I’ve been seeing “Light” soy milk. I haven’t looked to see if they jacked it with a bunch of extra preservatives, but if not I wonder if it’s any good.

  18. January 15, 2010 / 12:46 pm

    I don’t drink too much milk myself as I am just a little bit lactose intolerant but for my husband I get fat-free and for my daughter still the 2%, she’s too skinny.

  19. January 15, 2010 / 12:47 pm

    I always recommend low-fat or fat-free milk to patients but I guess I never realized how much saturated fat it does fat. I always choose fat-free. I was brought up drinking fat-free so I never thought twice about the taste and texture. A lot of patients always complain it tastes to watery.

  20. January 15, 2010 / 1:32 pm

    Of course I knew that, but I am supposed to know that. If patients complain about they can always so a week of 1% of 1/2 fat free half 2% in a glass to wean themselves down. Some people just can;t go cold turkey. We use fat free in our house.

    One thing I used to tell my students about whole milk was that it was designed for one purpose…to make baby cows grow into big, strong healthy cows…key word being cows! Ok, big cows are the key words. Some people forget about it’s original function. We are the only mammals to continue to drink milk after infancy and it isn’t even ours. As humans we have investigated this and so we know the benefit nutritionally, but the benefit is in those nutrients not providing energy, so the fat needs to go!

  21. January 15, 2010 / 1:50 pm

    I always buy FF Skim Plus… I heart it

  22. January 15, 2010 / 2:04 pm

    Great post Nicole!! This a great messege to get out there!

    Have a great weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. January 15, 2010 / 2:23 pm

    I did not ๐Ÿ™‚ Growing up I didn’t like milk until I tried non-fat (my parents bought 2%). Now days I only drink Unsweetened Almond Milk and Soy Milk on occasion, both for health and preference reasons.

    This weekend I’m just trying to enjoy the last of my break before it’s back to full-time school on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

  24. January 15, 2010 / 2:32 pm

    Nice post! It’s sort of like the fact that 0 trans fat really doesn’t always mean 0. So lame. And fat free, has .05 grams. It’s NOT fat free! Who made these rules?! Stupid.

    I am going to sort of incorporate my “Nutrition TidBits” into a FAQ section, as I, like you, get MANY questions that I don’t always answer right away. I may even just link to your blog for a few of the answers ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. January 15, 2010 / 2:37 pm

    LOL, I did realise it only because I did a post the other day on the labeling requirements to label something low fat (or fat free, light etc) and the fact that dairy was exempted from the labeling laws, for those who don’t know 3g of fat or less are required to be labeled low fat unless you are 2% milk. (1% meets the labeling requirement at 2.5 grams)

  26. January 15, 2010 / 3:25 pm

    I don’t drink milk and always get 0% yogurt. I like 2% cheese. Fat free cheese is so gross!

  27. intheskinny
    January 15, 2010 / 4:10 pm

    I’m not a big milk drinker – never have been. Probably because I didn’t eat cereal with milk until college. My mom made the switch to skim milk from 2% while I was in elementary school (back when I was forced to have a glass/day). We are a 2 gallon family though – I buy skim for me and whole milk for my husband. He thinks the whole milk here is watered down compared to the country he grew up in.

  28. January 15, 2010 / 4:33 pm

    i need to share this with my boyfriend!
    i usuallly drink soymilk or almond milk tho so im glad i dont have to worry about that!

  29. January 15, 2010 / 4:40 pm

    I’m an almond milk girl all the way so I don’t tend to worry about any of this! But when I do drink milk, it’s skim all the way.

  30. January 15, 2010 / 5:25 pm

    We used to drink skim milk, but when the toddler switched from whole milk to 1% milk when he turned 2, we started drinking 1% milk as well, just to make shopping a bit easier; it was sort of a pain to have to buy two different types of milk… And yes, I am very aware of all the fat in dairy and cheese (it upsets my gallstones). I LOVE cheese but really watch my portions…

    As always, great info!

  31. January 15, 2010 / 6:03 pm

    we always get skim milk – good to know!

  32. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce
    January 15, 2010 / 7:53 pm

    you couldn’t pay me to drink 2% milk. not even 1%. actually i hate cow’s milk in general, but 2% just tastes so awful to me, nutrition horrors aside!

  33. January 16, 2010 / 8:14 am

    I actually did know the saturated fat content in higher % milks just because when I was trying to get more body fat the nutritionist recommended 2% milk. Now I rarely drink dairy milk and stick to soy or almond milk. I bet a lot of people don’t know though–so great post!

  34. January 16, 2010 / 9:05 am

    Great post Nicole. I would never blow my fat servings each day on 2% milk….not worth it. I like to get my daily fat mostly from nuts, seeds, avocados, hummus and other healthy fats that are low in saturated fat. That said, when I do eat cheese and foods higher in saturated fat, I use them sparingly and I use the best quality I can find. With excellent ingredients I don’t need to add much because the flavor is so pronounced!

  35. January 16, 2010 / 9:53 am

    I had no idea! I always buy fat free, but I think I’m going to stop drinking milk since I have to buy lactaid anyway I probably shouldn’t be consuming it ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. January 16, 2010 / 1:54 pm

    This is my first time to your blog, and I’m hooked! I love reading this stuff! I always drink skim milk, but mainly just because that’s what I grew up drinking and I love it.

    I’m really enjoying your blog, thanks!

  37. January 16, 2010 / 4:20 pm

    I love fat-free milk! Some people think it is gross, but I enjoy it!

  38. January 18, 2010 / 12:30 pm

    I’m a skim milk drinker – always have been.

    I have never even tried 1% or 2% – I cannot even imagine what whole milk is like.

    Great info – thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get my newest recipes
Follow Me