Dairy still the most nutritious option


Research looks at what milk is best for you.

Fonterra Chief Science and Technology Officer, Jeremy Hill believes cow’s milk is one of the most nutritious options available to consumers.

At the same time Jeremy recognises there are plenty of plant-based beverages that claim to be alternatives – from soy ‘milk’, almond ‘milk’, cashew ‘milk’, even ‘milk’ made from rice, oats, or peas.

Jeremy Hill, Chief Science & Technology Officer

“I often get asked ‘what milk is best for you?’ Choosing one of the alternatives could seem like a healthy option. But is it really better for you than drinking cow’s milk?

“Research suggests that the good old dairy version remains the most nutritious option,” he says.

Cow’s milk is a good source of high-quality protein. It’s naturally packed full of calcium, B vitamins, and many other nutrients and minerals.

Plus, it has the added benefit of being delicious in everything from milkshakes to baking – and it’s great when it’s used to make yoghurts and cheeses.

Supported by Science

But don’t just take our word for it. The Journal of Food Science and Technology has assessed the nutritional value of a single serving of the four most popular plant-based ‘milks’ relative to cow’s milk.

“We thought that a review was much overdue in understanding the nutritional information of various plant-based milks,” explained study author Sai Kranthi Vanga.

The authors of the review were surprised that many of these ‘milks’ did not contain the same level of key micro and macro nutrients when compared with cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is packed with protein and other key nutrients, including fat and carbohydrates. It also contains some antimicrobial properties and has been shown to help fight off fever and respiratory infections, the researchers said.

Similar findings have come from a study of 115 plant-based ‘milk’ alternatives available in Australian supermarkets.

The study was published last year in the Nutrients journal and the authors concluded that the alternative ‘milks’ could reduce intakes of protein and micronutrients, particularly vitamin A, B2, B12, iodine and zinc, and lead to a 50% reduction in the estimated average requirements for protein, zinc and calcium in chosen diets.

Research suggests that the good old dairy version remains the most nutritious option.

jeremy hill, chief science & technology officer, fonterra

Totally Natural

People here in New Zealand and around the world choose milk as a staple in their diet.

Why? Because it is packed with good nutrients that helps them lead a healthy life.

Here are 10 nutritional reasons why milk is best:

  • Calcium: Helps you build healthy bones and teeth and maintain bone mass throughout life
  • Potassium: Helps you to maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Helps you to build healthy bones. Your body also needs this to process and generate energy
  • Vitamin D: Helps you build healthy bones and maintain bone mass throughout life
  • Vitamin B12: Used by your body to make healthy red blood cells which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. Also important to help your nerves function normally


  • Vitamin A: Helps your immune system to function, and also to maintain normal vision and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2): Your body needs this to process and convert food into energy
  • Niacin: Your body needs this to process and convert food into energy
  • Protein: Important to help you build and repair muscle tissue as well as supporting a wide range of important body functions
  • Amino Acids: Unlike many plant proteins, milk proteins are rich in specific amino acids our bodies need but can’t produce. We should not be surprised that the composition of amino acids that mammals require are the very same types found in milk, a food designed by nature for this specific purpose.

There’s a unique combination of nutrients in dairy, and they play an important role in growing and maintaining healthy bones, your immunity, the functioning of your nervous system (including your brain), helping to prevent tiredness, maintaining healthy eyes, and so much more.

There’s also power in the individual components of milk in helping manage and recover from injuries and illnesses.

For example, milk proteins are used in advanced medical nutrition products and help nourish and rehabilitate patients and there’s even unique lipids in milk that have been shown to help with cognitive development and people to stay focused and positive under stress.