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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

The Ban on Soda and Chocolate Milk: But are they nutritionally the same?

As I was sitting in construction traffic on my commute to work today, I heard an interesting news tidbit on the radio that made me squirm in my seat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of Americans drink a soda or sugar beverage each day of the week. What's worse is that one in twenty are consuming the equivalent of more than 4 cans of soda each day with teenage boys leading the pack.

Sweetened drinks, such as soda, are partially to blame for the obesity epidemic this nation is facing. These drinks do not provide any nutritional benefit and are nothing but empty calories, which may lead to weight gain. One 12-ounce can of regular soda has approximately 100 calories and 25 grams of added sugars. Therefore, 4 cans of soda would total 400 calories and 100 grams of sugar. Now, imagine yourself going to the cupboard, pouring a ½ cup of sugar into your glass and eating it. That's how much sugar is in 4 cans of soda!

Schools are starting to turn off vending machines that sell soda during school hours, or they aren't even stocking them with soda.  But what about chocolate milk?  I have received many questions on the topic. Some schools are starting to ban them, saying that they are full of sugar. I have a problem with that. While chocolate milk does contain added sugars, it also contains many key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, which are important for growth and development. Here is what some of the top leading health and nutrition organizations, including the American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, are saying:

"All milk contains a unique combination of nutrients important for growth and development. And flavored milk accounts for less than 3.5 percent of added sugar intake among children ages 6-12 and less than 2 percent of the added sugar intake among teens. Studies have shown that children who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs; do not consume more added sugar, fat or calories; and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers". American Dietetic Association. Press Release. Science supports the important role of milk, including flavored milk, in children's nutrition. Nov 11, 2009.

The bottom line:  Soda and chocolate milk are not the same. Chocolate milk, just like white milk, provides 9 essential nutrients. Soda provides zero. If it takes a little chocolate syrup to get your kids to drink milk, it's worth it.

Try this recipe as an alternative to soda!

Watermelon Sipper (Printable PDF)

(makes 8 servings)

4 cups fresh watermelon chunks, seeds removed

6 cups water, seltzer water or club soda

Juice of 2 limes

  1. Put watermelon and water into a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a pitcher.
  2. Squeeze lime juice into watermelon water and stir.
  3. Enjoy in a glass of ice.

Nutritional analysis per 1 cup serving: 20 Calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 0 milligrams sodium, 7 grams total carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 0 grams protein

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