A glass of chocolate milk
|Ingredients||Milk, chocolate syrup or chocolate powder|
Chocolate milk is sweetened, cocoa-flavored milk. It is created by mixing chocolate syrup (or chocolate powder) with milk (from cows, goats, soy, rice, etc.). It can be purchased pre-mixed or made at home with either cocoa powder and a sweetener (such as sugar or a sugar substitute), or with melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, or chocolate milk mix. Other ingredients, such as starch, salt, carrageenan, vanilla, or artificial flavoring are sometimes added. The carrageenan is used at very low concentrations to form an imperceptible weak gel that prevents the large, dense particles of chocolate from sedimentation. Like unflavored milk, chocolate milk should also be refrigerated. Chocolate milk was first created by Hans Sloane in Ireland during the late 1680s, and is generally served cold.
Scientific studies and research
Some nutritionists have criticized chocolate milk for its high sugar content and its relationship to childhood obesity. In New York City, school food officials report that nearly 60 percent of the 100 million cartons served each year contain fat-free chocolate milk. Because chocolate milk can contain twice as much sugar as plain low-fat milk from added sugars, some school districts have stopped serving the product altogether, including some areas in California and Washington, D.C. In the US, 32% of children and teens are overweight and at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and other obesity related issues, a fact that some may attribute to chocolate milk consumption.
A number of studies have been issued in regards to chocolate milk nutrition. A 2005 study by the New York City (NYC) Department of Education, for example, found that by removing whole milk and replacing it with low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk, students were served an estimated 5,960 fewer calories and 619 fewer grams of fat per year. However, more recent studies show that fat-free and low-fat milk may actually increase body fat and contribute to obesity. Whole milk may, in fact, be healthier for obese children than low-fat or non-fat milk.
In a study conducted in 2006, researchers stated that the benefits of drinking chocolate milk were likely due to its ratio of carbohydrates to protein, among other nutritional properties. However, this study was small in scale as it was conducted on only nine athletes and was partially funded by the dairy industry. Furthermore, the study compared chocolate milk to two energy drinks and unflavored milk was not used as a comparison, so it is unknown if chocolate milk is superior to unflavored milk as a recovery drink.
A November 2009 study conducted by scientists in Barcelona, Spain suggests that regularly consuming skimmed milk with cocoa rich in flavonoids may reduce inflammation and slow or prevent the development of atherosclerosis. However, the study notes that its effects are not as pronounced as seen in consumption of red wine.
A May 2010 sports nutrition study reported the positive efficacy of chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery drink.
Yet another study in 2011 at Kean University in New Jersey concluded similar results in male soccer players discovering there was an increase in fatigue when chocolate milk was consumed. The Kean University study also viewed chocolate milk’s effects on women soccer players undergoing morning and afternoon practices during preseason. They were either given the carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage or chocolate milk between morning and afternoon preseason practices. Following every afternoon practice, each athlete completed a shuttle run to fatigue. The study concluded that chocolate milk is just as beneficial as the carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage in promoting recovery in women.
A study by department of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia has found that chocolate milk may be the best recovery drink considering that it has the ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1, which is ideal for muscles to replenish glycogen levels, and also more potassium, calcium and vitamin D than most other sports drinks.
Nutritional values to chocolate milk
There are also 5 milligrams of caffeine in each mini carton of chocolate milk. Chocolate has oxalic acid, which reacts with the calcium in the milk producing calcium oxalate, thus preventing the calcium from being absorbed in the intestine. However, it is present in small enough amounts that the effect on calcium absorption is negligible. As chocolate contains relatively small amounts of oxalate, it is unclear to what extent chocolate consumption affects healthy people with calcium-rich diets.
In a 2008 study, participants who consumed one or more servings of chocolate on a daily basis had lower bone density and strength than those participants who ate a serving of chocolate six times a week or less. Researchers believe this may be due to oxalate inhibiting calcium absorption — but it could also be due to sugar content in chocolate, which may increase calcium excretion. It is clear, however, that consuming foods high in oxalate — and in turn their effect on calcium absorption — is a more significant concern for people with oxalate kidney stones, which occur when there is too much oxalate in the urine. These people, especially, should reduce their oxalate intake and increase their calcium intake. However, the high magnesium content in chocolate is likely to reduce the risk of stone formation, because like citrate, magnesium is also an inhibitor of urinary crystal formation.
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- Rudd Centre for policy and obesity http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/what_we_do.aspx?id=4
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- Media related to Chocolate milk at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of chocolate milk at Wiktionary