Getting kids to drink milk is a challenge in many families.
Thankfully, chocolate milk gets the job done in many homes. Today we’ll take a look at one of the most popular brands, Nestle’s Nesquik, which may also be purchased as powder or syrup. Nesquik was introduced 25 years ago in 1984, and has since become the market leader in its segment.
What you need to know:
The nutrition label is straightforward. Highlights:
- A serving is 1 cup and contains 200 calories, 45 are from fat.
- Fortification with vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium raise their values to 10, 25, and 40 percent respectively of the daily requirements (for an adult consuming a 2000 calorie diet).
- 30 grams of sugar !?! If you consider that plain milk has 12g of sugar (not the sweet kind, just the generic term for sugars that are the building blocks of carbs), this means 18 grams of sugar have been added to “choclify” the milk. That’s more than 3.5 teaspoons of sugar, or as you’ll see below, high fructose corn syrup, added to a cup of milk. Now you know why kids love it. This added sugar adds up to 64 of the 200 calories in the cup (32%).
Here is the ingredient list, which for some reason Nestle does not provide on its website:
Reduced Fat Milk with Vitamin A Palmitate and Vitamin D3 Added, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Less Than 2% of Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Guar Gum, Salt, Carrageenan.
Now let’s try to decode:
- Reduced Fat Milk – Whole milk contains 3-4% fat, this version – 2%
- Vitamin A Palmitate – aka retinyl palmitate – a fat-soluble vitamin utilized in the process of vision. The only form of vitamin A used to fortify dairy products. Synthetically produced.
- Vitamin D3 - a type of vitamin D, also manufactured by the skin when exposed to sunlight. Important in maintaining organ systems in our bodies.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – a cheap substitute to table sugar that we’ve covered extensively.
- “Less Than 2% of” - this means all the following ingredients individually make up less than two percent in weight of the product:
- Cocoa Processed with Alkali – cocoa beans processed with alkali are also called “Dutched Chocolate”. This method is used to enhance color, give a milder flavor, lower acidity, and increase solubility. Unfortunately the process destroys beneficial antioxidants called flavonols.
- Nonfat Milk – again? wasn’t milk at the top of the list?
- Sugar – wasn’t the HFCS enough?
- Calcium Carbonate - an inexpensive dietary calcium supplement. Important in bone building.
- Natural and Artificial Flavors – geez Nestle, please tell us what these are…
- Guar Gum – a cheap, natural food thickener. gives the drink more, well, thickness
- Salt – why do we need salt in a sweet drink? 6% of the daily value of sodium, for what?
- Carrageenan - cheap, natural thickening agent originating from seaweed.
What to do at the supermarket:
Nequik is extremely sweet, so why not mix with plain milk to reduce the sugar level?
Also, it’s cheaper and easier to use the powdered version to control the sweetness level.
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