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The 9 Best Dairy Milk Brands To Buy, According to a Nutritionist

Dairy milk contains many important nutrients that should make it earn a place in a healthy diet, especially when you choose the right brands.
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It's easy to take the gallon of milk in your fridge for granted. For most of us, milk is a rather ho-hum, everyday food. But that cold, creamy beverage you pour onto cereal or into smoothies is a veritable nutritional goldmine. One cup of cow's milk contains all three macronutrients (high-quality protein, healthy fats, and carbs from lactose), not to mention plenty of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and a robust immune system.

Just about any milk you choose will have health benefits from these nutrients. And here's a fun fact: most milk in the U.S. is a good choice for supporting family farms. According to U.S. Dairy, about 97% of all American dairy farms are family-owned and operated. Plus, since dairy councils exist regionally around the country, most milk doesn't need to travel thousands of miles, making it far more local than other fresh foods like out-of-season fruits and vegetables.

Still, while dairy milk "does a body good," some brands offer more environmentally friendly farming practices and even superior nutrition. Check out these nine best dairy milk brands on the market, and then check out The 10 Healthiest Dairy Foods for Weight Loss.

How we chose the healthiest dairy milk brands:

  • Animals' diet: When they eat grass, cows (and goats) are usually the healthiest and produce the most nutrient-dense milk. Research shows that milk from grass-fed ruminants contains higher levels of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA)—hence the number of grass-fed milk brands on our list.
  • Environmental impact: Though organic dairy products don't necessarily have better nutrition than conventionally produced dairy, organic foods are usually better for the planet. For this reason, we chose mostly organic milks.
  • Ethical treatment of animals: Where possible, we sought brands that share details about how they treat their cows.

Maple Hill Organic Whole Milk

Maple hill organic grass fed whole milk
Maple Hill
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 160
Fat: 9 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 105 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

Grass-fed, organic, and totally transparent about its farming practices, Maple Hill is a clear frontrunner in the contest for healthiest milks. The brand is committed to producing humane, ethical, and traceable dairy, so even though its price point is on the higher side, it may be worth the extra cash.

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Organic Valley Whole Grassmilk

Maple Hill Organic Whole Milk
Maple Hill
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

Organic Valley offers another version of grass-fed organic milk with their "Grassmilk," a full-fat dairy product from cows fed 100% organic grass and dried forage. A hidden benefit of purchasing Organic Valley's milk (besides its extra healthy fats): each batch contains subtle seasonal flavors, depending on the pastures cows grazed.

 

A2 Grassfed 2% Milk

A2 Grassfed 2% Milk
A2 Milk
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 120
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 115 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

A2's milk could be the ticket to a tall, cool glass for those who can't stomach milk due to food intolerance. Most cows' milk contains two types of protein: A1 and A2. This unique milk contains only A2 proteins, which some research has shown may minimize stomach discomfort. Did we mention it's totally grass-fed, too?

 25 Ways To Eat More Protein at Every Meal

Horizon Organic Grassfed Whole Milk

carton of Horizon mikl on a white background
Horizon Organic
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 170
Fat: 9 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 140 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

Conditions for milk cows aren't always sunshine and carefree grazing, but when you choose Horizon Organic Grassfed Whole Milk, you can rest assured that your purchase supports happy animals. Horizon's dairy cows feed on organic pastures and get at least 150 days of sunshine and fresh air annually.

Stonyfield 2% Organic Milk

Stonyfield 2% Organic Milk
Stonyfield
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 130
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 8g

If you'd like milk with less fat, Stonyfield's Organic 2% Reduced Fat Milk is a winner, especially for its commitment to sustainability. The brand is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. Their website offers a clearly detailed sustainability plan with information on energy usage, logistics, packaging, and waste management.

Horizon Organic Lactose Free Whole Milk

Horizon Organic Lactose Free Whole Milk
Horizon
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 160
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 135 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

Lactose-intolerant folks can enjoy the delicious creaminess of real dairy with Horizon's Organic Lactose-Free Whole Milk. This option has just as much protein and calcium as regular milk but skips the carbohydrate that causes digestive discomfort. And since it's a whole-fat dairy product, it could help protect against metabolic syndrome, a condition that encompasses health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

 12 Lactose-Free Yogurts You'll Love

Organic Valley Family First DHA Omega-3 Whole Milk

Organic Valley Family First DHA Omega-3 Whole Milk
Organic Valley
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 8g

All milk contains healthy fats, but Organic Valley's Family First DHA Omega-3 Whole Milk takes the good-for-you fats up a notch. With added omega-3 fatty acids, this organic beverage could support brain and heart health. Kids and adults alike may benefit from this nutritional bump.

Meyenberg Whole Goat Milk

Meyenberg goat milk
Meyenberg
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 140
Fat: 7 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 115 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 8g

Not all dairy milk comes from cows! Goat milk offers a nutrition profile similar to cow milk but is more easily digested by some people.

If you want to switch things up with the tangy taste of goat milk, try Meyenberg's whole variety. It's Certified Humane, contains slightly less fat than cows' milk, and is fortified with vitamin D, just like regular milk.

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Parmalat Whole Milk

Parmalat Whole Milk
Parmalat
Nutrition (Per 1 cup serving):
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 130 mg
Carbs: 12 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 8g

When you want healthy milk that'll keep outside the fridge, check out Parmalat's shelf-stable whole milk. Pasteurized at ultra-high temperatures, this real dairy drink doesn't require refrigeration until it's opened. We especially like their whole milk option for its thick, creamy texture.

Sarah Garone, NDTR, CNC
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah
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