The lowdown: After it’s taken from the cow, the milk is pasteurized (heated, then quickly cooled) to kill bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. It’s an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamins D and K. Skim is the healthiest option, says Tanya Zuckerbrot, a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of The F-Factor Diet ($11, amazon.com). “It’s nutritionally similar to whole but doesn’t contain saturated fat and actually has more calcium.” If skim is too watery for you, try enhanced skim milk, which has a richer texture.
Good to know: Getting more (skim) milk may help you avoid weight gain. Recent research has found that a lack of calcium may trigger the release of certain hormones, leading to increased fat storage.