Chocolate milk is made by taking regular milk and adding cocoa flavoring either in powder or liquid form. Most often consumed by children and young adults, chocolate milk is now thought to have the perfect combination of nutrients even for serious athletes. Nutritional benefits aside, chocolate milk is a favorite of chocolate lovers, and can be bought pre-mixed in individual sizes or gallons, made on one’s own with syrup or cocoa powder, and even heated to be enjoyed warm.
Chocolate milk is a beverage made with two beloved ingredients: milk and chocolate. This combination is also popular in a solid candy form known as milk chocolate. What people love about chocolate milk (and milk chocolate) is the smoothness of texture and flavor – the texture becomes creamy and the flavor of chocolate is sweetened by sugars in the milk. Pre-mixed chocolate milk can be purchased from grocery stores, but some prefer to buy the milk and chocolate separately to have more control over fat content of milk used and chocolate flavor. A few options exist for the chocolate flavoring added to milk: cocoa powder and sugar, chocolate syrup, melted chocolate, and chocolate milk mix. While any of these chocolate additives will work, chocolate syrup is easy to use, mixes well, and provides the best flavor for chocolate milk (it can also be added to top ice cream – an extra bonus).
Chocolate milk contains oxalic acid, which initially lead researchers to believe that the calcium in chocolate milk would not be readily absorbed by the body. As it turns out, the oxalic acid will bind with calcium and prevent absorption, but it is present in such small amounts that the effects are negligible; enough calcium is free for the body to absorb it. The focus now is on the replenishing effects of chocolate milk for hard core athletes. A study done in 2006 examined nine male cyclists who rode a certain distance, stopped to break, then rode again until completely exhausted. During the break, some were given Gatorade, some Endurox (a sports drink containing electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein), and some were given low fat chocolate milk. The cyclists who drank the chocolate milk biked 50% farther than the cyclists who drank Endurox, and the same distance as those that consumed Gatorade. Though Endurox has the same carbohydrate to protein ratio as chocolate milk (and costs at least twice as much!), it did not offer the same nourishment for the athletes, possibly because of a different sugar composition.
Fast nutrient replacement from chocolate milk can make a big difference in performance of a person who works out everyday, and it is a very easy drink to give children involved in athletic activities. Many children (teenagers too) do not get enough vitamin D, calcium, and potassium in their diets, and chocolate milk helps provide those essential nutrients. Chocolate milk is very affordable and can be purchased or subsidized through school lunch programs as well.
Chocolate milk should be stored in a refrigerator just like regular milk, but sometimes it is heated to produce a hot chocolate drink. Usually heated in a microwave, hot chocolate is enjoyed during the winter months and often is topped with whipped cream. In Israel, chocolate milk, though not heated, is enjoyed out of a smaller plastic bag. This convenient and portable drink is much like a juicebox, except it has no straw. The consumer will bite a tear into the corner of the bag and drink the milk out through that tear. Hot or cold, bag or plastic jug, chocolate milk is enjoyed in many forms.
Many companies offer chocolate milk such as Nesquik, Yoo-hoo, Carnation, and Hershey. Each manufacturer offers a different chocolate flavor, and many are working on new flavors for milk like strawberry and banana. Though other milk flavorings enter the market, chocolate milk remains the most popular. For a very yummy chocolate milk beverage, place ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup in a blender. Blend until everything is mixed and the liquid is frothy – pour into cups, and enjoy!
Chocolate milk is a wonderfully nutritious drink for children and adults, and will provide strength and nourishment even for the most serious athlete. If chocolate milk is the only form of milk your child will drink, that’s ok! Lowfat chocolate milk is available and it will still provide calcium and carbohydrates with a little less sugar and fat than chocolate made with whole milk. Whether made with cocoa powder, syrup, or bought premixed, chocolate milk is a widely available, affordable, and tasty beverage.