Why milk is a naturally nutritious superfood

Milk is a natural superfood – packed with goodness, it delivers an impressive array of nutrients in every glass. 

Versatile, delicious, and nutritious, milk can be one of the building blocks of a healthy diet¹ for people of all ages.

A unique nutritional powerhouse 

Milk has been an important part of the human diet for around 8,000 years, and it has helped us survive and thrive as a species. It contains a unique combination of more than 10 essential nutrients that give milk its wide-ranging health benefits: 

  • Protein, which builds and repairs muscles and bones
  • Carbohydrate, the body’s primary source of energy
  • Fat, essential for cell function and a source of energy 
  • Calcium, vital for healthy bones and teeth, and important for muscle contraction , 
  • Phosphorus, which helps maintain body’s normal pH and activation of many enzymes 
  • Potassium, required for nerve response and muscle contractions 
  • Magnesium, support muscle function and maintaining bone strength 
  • Zinc, required for optimal immune function and wound healing
  • Riboflavin, needed to convert food into energy
  • Vitamin B12, for the central nervous system and normal blood function 
  • Vitamin A, found in full-fat milk, for healthy eyesight, cell growth and immune function


An incredible source of natural goodness for all ages and stages

A glass of milk also contains bioactive compounds that are important for good health, including bioactive peptides, lactoferrin, complex milk lipids, and milk oligosaccharides. 

80% of the world’s population – about six billion people – regularly drink milk or consume other dairy products,” says Laura Anderson, Global Head of Nutrition. “Milk is produced and sold all over the world, providing people everywhere with many of the essential nutrients they need for a healthy life.”

Milk and dairy products have health benefits seen throughout the body 

Because they provide you with such a range of nutrients, milk and dairy products have health benefits throughout your body’s vital systems.

 1. Bone health

Your bones are continually being renewed and rebuilt, and milk contains many of the building blocks needed to keep them strong. Calcium-rich foods like milk, accompanied by weight-bearing exercise and safe sun exposure, are integral to maintaining optimal bone health. 

To get the same amount of calcium as one 250ml glass of full-fat milk you would have to eat:

  • 9 cups of raw spinach, or
  • 10 cups of raw broccoli, or
  • Half a cup of tinned sardines, or
  • over half a cup of whole almonds

*New Zealand Food Composition Database. 2022. The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 14th Edition 2021. The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited and Ministry of Health www.foodcomposition.co.nz/concise-tables/

2. Dental health

Healthy nutrition and good eating habits have a major role to play in maintaining strong teeth. Milk contains a combination of nutrients that supports dental health, including calcium, phosphorus, as well as specific caseins and peptides. Together, these nutrients help reduce the risk of cavities and demineralisation. 

3. Muscle mass 

Post-workout protein helps build your lean muscle mass, and milk is a great choice to provide that. The proteins in milk contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to build and maintain muscle.  Consuming milk also helps you replace the fluids and electrolytes – sodium and potassium – lost during a workout. 

4. Digestive health 

Yoghurt and other fermented products have been consumed by cultures around the world for thousands of years. These support digestive health, because they contain a complex combination of beneficial bacteria which can help build a healthy microbiome and improve overall digestive health. 

5. Cardiovascular disease

Regularly consuming milk and dairy products may provide protective benefits. A healthy, balanced diet, including milk, has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke, metabolic syndrome, and help manage blood pressure

An incredible source of natural goodness for all ages and stages

Milk is naturally packed with goodness. There’s no added sugar, it’s minimally processed, and it’s available almost everywhere. In most cases you can choose from a variety of options ranging from low fat to full fat, allowing you to pick the milk that works best for you and your family. 

Milk and dairy products are an important source of nutrients for children – with higher intakes being associated with better growth, micronutrient status, cognitive performance, and motor development. 

Laura Anderson, Global Head of Nutrition, fonterra

“Milk is valuable for people at all ages and stages,” says Laura. “Milk and dairy products are an important source of nutrients for children – with higher intakes being associated with better growth, micronutrient status, cognitive performance, and motor development. A glass of milk or a pottle of yoghurt is a great way to fill up a hungry child after a busy day at school and sports. It helps rehydrate them, provides valuable nutrients, and gives them the energy and protein to support their physical recovery.” 

The superfood benefits of milk remain important throughout life, from adolescent growth spurts to adult health to senior bone health maintenance. 

Milk is a superfood that’s easy to include in your everyday diet

Because it’s so versatile and delicious, milk and dairy products are an easy way to get essential nutrients into your diet every day.

You can drink a glass of milk just as it is or enjoy the goodness of milk in an incredible range of other dairy products, including yoghurt and all the different types of cheeses. These feature in many of the most enduring and popular recipes worldwide, so daily dairy consumption can easily fit into any lifestyle or culinary tastes.

Milk works brilliantly at breakfast – whether you’re pouring milk on your cereal, making porridge for long-lasting energy, or adding milk to your tea or coffee. At the weekends, with more time on your hands, you might make pancakes with yoghurt and fresh berries, or home-made museli with yoghurt and berries. 

“A glass of milk makes a very easy snack between meals,” Laura says. “It will help fill you up until your next meal, so you get that quality protein without the excess calories and added sugar. Or you can take your glass of milk to the next level by making a fruit smoothie or a protein shake.” 

Milk is also a common ingredient in many classic lunches, including creamy soups, omelettes, scrambled eggs and pasta salads. At dinnertime, milk often makes an appearance in some of the world’s favourite pasta dishes, including lasagne and pasta alfredo. It’s a fundamental component of Béchamel, which is found in soufflés, gratins, quiches, casseroles, cannelloni and moussaka.  Yoghurt appears in cuisines across the globe, including in curries, tzatziki, labneh and shish barak. Cheese is a highlight in the rich tapestry of world foods, with every country, many regions and even small towns having their own unique specialty cheeses. 

Daily dairy consumption can easily fit into any lifestyle or culinary tastes.

To go with your meal, why not enjoy a lassi made with yoghurt, or nailao made with milk? And when it comes to an indulgent dessert now and again, milk often has a starring role in baked treats like cake and biscuits, kalakhand, old-fashioned desserts like rice pudding, or stylish delights like crème brûlée.  

Reach for milk – the ready-to-drink superfood 

When you open the fridge and you’re looking for a fast, healthy option, you can reach for milk with confidence. 

“Milk is an everyday superfood that packs a massive nutritional punch,” says Laura. “It delivers positive benefits that support millions of people all over the world to live a full and healthy life.”