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Pour Your Heart Out

Catherine Kim

Skate ’til the final buzzer, refuel ’til the final drop

Which would you prefer – a fresh sheet of ice or a cold glass of chocolate milk?

Both? That’s what we figured.

Refueling with chocolate milk after carving up the ice is a great way to strengthen your body for the next game or practice. And parents, know that when your kids are sipping chocolate milk, they’re getting the same 16 nutrients as they do from white milk, including all the calcium and vitamin D. This makes it an excellent complement to white milk in a healthy diet.

Chocolate milk’s delicious taste helps children and teens meet Canada’s Food Guide recommendations for Milk Products and Alternatives and get essential bone-building nutrients they may otherwise miss out on.

Statistics Canada surveys have shown that up to 37 per cent of children aged four to nine do not meet the minimum recommended number of servings of milk products per day. As children get older their consumption of milk products decreases to the point where 61 per cent of boys and 83 per cent of girls, aged 10 to 16 years, are not meeting the minimum recommended number of servings of milk products per day.

Research shows that children and teens who include chocolate and other flavoured milks in their diet tend to consume more milk than those who drink only white milk or no milk at all. They also tend to have a better overall diet quality than those who don’t drink chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk and growing bones

Many of the 16 essential nutrients in chocolate milk are vital to children’s and teens’ growing bones and teeth – and what kids don’t get during their crucial years of rapid growth can’t be made up for in later life.

Enjoying chocolate milk and other flavoured milk, as a complement to white milk, can help picky eaters get the servings of Milk and Alternatives that Canada’s Food Guide tells us they need for optimal growth and bone health.

Research has also shown that children who drink chocolate or other flavoured milks consume more milk in total and fewer soft drinks and fruit drinks. As a result, they get more calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D – three key nutrients for bone health – than those who drink no chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk and sugar

Chocolate milk generally contains no more sugar than unsweetened apple juice, and a good portion of that is the naturally occurring sugar, lactose, which is also found in white milk.

Studies show that the diets of children who drink chocolate or other flavoured milks contain no more added sugar than those who consume no chocolate milk. It seems that children and teens don’t consume chocolate milk instead of white milk – rather, when given the choice, they choose chocolate milk instead of reaching for less nutritious sweet drinks like soft drinks and fruit drinks.

In the US, the American Heart Association states that “when sugars are added to otherwise nutrient-rich foods, such as sugar-sweetened dairy products like flavored milk and yogurt and sugar-sweetened cereals, the quality of children’s and adolescents’ diets improve, and in the case of flavored milks, no adverse effects on weight status were found.” The AHA also suggests that the foods mainly responsible for the increased energy intake from sugars/added sugars in the US diet are soft drinks, fruit drinks, desserts, sugars and jellies, candy, and ready-to-eat cereals.

On our side of the 49th parallel, chocolate milk contributes less than 1 per cent to Canada’s total added-sugar intake.

Chocolate milk and hyperactivity

Many people mistakenly believe that chocolate milk causes hyperactivity in children because it contains some sugar and caffeine. However, according to Dietitians of Canada, research has not shown a link between sugar and hyperactivity in children.

Researchers believe that the increased activity observed when children are eating sweets is likely related to the excitement of the occasion – don’t we all get excited at a birthday party? Since children are often restricted from having sweets, simply being allowed to have them at all can enough to generate a level of excitement.

Some wonder whether hyperactivity could be caused by the caffeine found naturally in chocolate milk. The answer to that is no. There is too little caffeine in chocolate milk for it to influence a child’s behavior.

Health Canada recommends a maximum daily intake of 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight for children aged 12 years or younger. So, a child weighing 30 kg (66 pounds) could consume up to 75 mg of caffeine per day – a lot more than the amount of caffeine in one glass of chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk and teeth

Just like white milk, chocolate milk is good for the health of your teeth. Because it’s a liquid, the sugar it contains does not stay in the mouth long and does not stick to teeth. Plus, cocoa and many of the nutrients found in milk help prevent cavities, thereby countering the effect of the sugar in chocolate milk.

Research has shown that children who drink chocolate or other flavoured milks not only consume more milk in total, they also drink fewer sweetened beverages that can cause tooth-decay, such as soft drinks and fruit drinks.

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