University of Connecticut Extension partnered with the Nutrition Club Wednesday to celebrate National Chocolate Milk Day, and discuss the various health benefits of dairy products with students.
This event, which took place in the lobby of South Dining Hall, was organized by Stacey Stearns, the agriculture programs specialist for UConn Extension.
The event included a table outside the dining hall where students could talk to representatives from the UConn Nutrition Club, as well as answer dairy-themed trivia questions to win a cow-shaped stress ball.
Stearns said that although the celebration of this national holiday is a fun way for students to de-stress while drinking chocolate milk, the purpose of the event should not be forgotten.
“My goal in celebrating National Chocolate Milk Day is to encourage milk consumption,” Stearns said.
Stearns said that she hopes this event reminds students that milk is a healthy beverage choice.
“Moderate evidence shows that milk and milk products are linked to improved bone health, especially in children and teens,” she said.
Milk contains important nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin, Stearns said.
“We’re just using the event as a way to increase education about the nutritional benefits of drinking milk,” Stearns said.
Dr. Michael Puglisi, assistant extension professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, reflected the idea that drinking milk is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
“Milk is a great source of high quality protein, and can serve as a healthy, low-cost alternative to protein powders and supplements that are commonly used,” Puglisi said.
Another benefit of milk is that it’s a good source of potassium, which is a nutrient many American diets lack, Puglisi said.
“Boosting potassium is a dietary recommendation that is not emphasized enough, and milk can help to meet this recommendation,” Puglisi said.
Puglisi also mentioned a few concerns about drinking chocolate milk instead of regular, unflavored milk.
A typical 8 oz. serving of chocolate milk could contain up to 30 percent of the daily recommended sugar intake for the average person, Puglisi said.
“If budgeted, chocolate milk can fit into the diet, but...the large amount [of sugar] contributed by this beverage makes it something to enjoy sparingly,” he said.
Stearns also discussed these concerns, and said that the point of celebrating National Chocolate Milk Day was not to recommend frequent consumption of chocolate milk, but rather to advocate for the health benefits of milk products in general as an alternative to carbonated sodas and energy drinks.
“Consumers should remember that chocolate milk is higher in sugar and calories...[They should] consume in moderation while enjoying the day,” she said.
Elizabeth Lamonte, president of the UConn Nutrition Club, was one of the representatives from her organization who tabled the event in South Dining Hall.
Lamonte said that the Nutrition Club frequently looks for opportunities to work with organizations in order to communicate information about healthy eating to students.
“We’re just here to try to let people know that eating healthy is not that difficult,” Lamonte said.
Annie Stachura is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.