Article

What Do Milk Fat Percentages Mean?

April 03, 2015

While growing up, many of us likely knew the milk in our family’s fridge as simply “milk.” However, as we became older, we likely started to recognize the different cap colors different types of milk in the dairy case: whole, skim, 2 percent, and others. (And, here’s a fun fact: Did you know those colors may vary from brand to brand?)

We know that the percentages on milk can be confusing – so we wanted to answer what should be a simple question: What do milk fat percentages mean?

The percentage on your milk container is the amount of fat in the milk by weight. Whole milk is about 3.5 percent fat, and it’s the closest to the way it comes out of the cow. There also are other options for those who have different health needs or taste preferences, including reduced-fat (2 percent), low-fat (1 percent) and fat-free milk. Here’s a quick look:

Again, the only difference between the types of milk is the amount of fat, which also is reflected in total calorie differences among different types of milk. How is this done? Before milk is bottled, all of the fat is removed. It’s then re-added to the milk in the various percentages. None of these milks are watered down.

While the amount of fat in your milk may vary, you can feel good knowing that all cow’s milk contains the same nine essential nutrients

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