However, as we became older, we likely started to recognize the different cap colors on different types of milk in the dairy case: whole, skim, 2 percent, and others. (Special note: Those colors may vary from brand to brand.)
The percentages on milk can be confusing. So here is the answer to this simple question: What do milk fat percentages mean? Here are the facts from the National Dairy Council.
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. I often hear people refer to this milk as “vitamin D” milk. 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 or skim milk. Note – all milks contain added vitamin D.
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, know that all cow’s milk contains the same nine essential nutrients: Calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, magnesium, potassium, and niacin.
Kathy R. Byrnes is Kenton County family and consumer sciences agent for University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.