Milk, skim milk that is, does do a body good. A review of studies published in 2010 in the journal “Lipids” indicated that people who ate the most dairy products, such as skim milk, had a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who ate the least amount of dairy products. Skim milk is heart-healthy because it has less than 0.5 percent milk fat and contains vitamins that keep your ticker in good working order. By pouring yourself a glass of skim milk with lunch or topping your cereal in the mornings with it, you're one step closer to a heart-healthy diet.
If you're looking for an easy, sweat-free way to keep your waistline trim, then pour yourself a glass of skim milk. One cup, or 8 ounces, of skim milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium, or 30 percent of the recommended dietary allowance. Calcium lowers your parathyroid hormone, which stimulates your body to burn more fat, keeping you lean and reducing your risk of heart disease. Calcium also helps transmit nerve impulses and triggers muscle contractions, including your heart muscle. This mineral keeps your blood flowing by enabling your blood vessels to contract and dilate. It may be useful in preventing and treating moderately high blood pressure levels, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
You can't reap skim milk's calcium benefits unless you also get your daily dose of vitamin D because your body needs vitamin D to effectively use calcium. Luckily, skim milk is fortified with vitamin D. Your heart has vitamin D receptors on it, which may be why a deficiency can lead to heart disease. The Harvard School of Public Health states vitamin D helps control blood pressure and stops artery damage. An 8-ounce glass of skim milk contains 2.5 micrograms of vitamin D, or 16 percent of the RDA.
Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the functioning of an enzyme that makes the amino acid methionine from the amino acid homocysteine. Amino acids are used by all of your cells to make proteins in your body. Without vitamin B-12, homocysteine builds up in your blood. While this may not sound like a big deal, too much homocysteine could put you at risk for heart disease according to the Linus Pauling Institute. An 8-ounce glass of skim milk contains 0.9 micrograms of vitamin B-12, or 38 percent of the RDA.
The American Heart Association suggests you keep your fat consumption to 25 to 35 percent of your calories for the day. Saturated fats should comprise no more than 7 percent of your daily calorie intake. Saturated fats increase your cholesterol levels putting you at risk for heart disease. By drinking skim milk instead of whole milk, you're only getting a trace of saturated fat, which frees you up to get your daily fat from more heart-healthy sources, such as nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils.
- Lipids: The Consumption of Milk and Dairy Foods and the Incidence of Vascular Disease and Diabetes: An Overview of the Evidence
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Calcium
- Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: Dietary Calcium Intake and Obesity
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Vitamin D
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin D and Health
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Vitamin B-12
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.