Kids really love the taste of chocolate milk because it’s one of their favorite flavors. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate? Parents, too, love it because it delivers the same benefits the unflavored milk has. It provides them with calcium and vitamin D needed for strong bones.

But many school districts are considering a moratorium on flavored moo juice.

Why? The cocoa-laced dairy elixir has added sugar, in particular high-fructose corn syrup. That’s the same syrup food and drink manufacturers use to sweeten juice drinks and soft drinks. Speaking of the latter types of beverages, a school nutrition director called it “soda in drag” and a chef compares it to candy. Alongside a poor diet and sedentary activity, it contributes to the childhood obesity crisis.

But there may be more to the downsides of chocolate milk than just sugar. As opposed to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants. However, there was a German study that suggested that adding milk to antioxidant-rich foods may decrease the benefits. When researchers added milk to black tea, casein (a protein) bonds with the phenols (catechins, found in tea), restricting absorption. Maybe the same would hold true if milk is added to cocoa.

But alas, kids prefer milk chocolate than dark. I know my son does.

But what about sugar-free? Well, artificial sweeteners in most brands can do more harm than good. For example, if they drink cocoa-flavored milk sweetened with aspartame, they would crave more sweet carbs. That’s because the body releases insulin, tricking the body into eating something sugary.

Many manufacturers are creating low-sugar versions of the flavorful milk but despite having less sugar, it still has sugar. It’s pretty much the same white, refined sugar, which is a bit just as bad as high-fructose corn syrup. For organic versions, manufacturers use cane sugar, but it’s just as bad if not used in moderation.

But parents can dissolve a bit of cocoa in hot water and let it cool. Then, they can add a bit of honey, stevia granules, or other natural sweetener to the mix. They can mix in with skim or even 1% milk. Though chocolate milk is still, well, chocolate milk, at least they can control how much sweetener to put in. Maybe making the version of chocolate cow juice can cater their sweet tooth while keeping dieticians and school districts happy.

Or they can put a portion of cocoa milk to the blah-tasting brand to decrease the sugar. then they can progressively decrease the amount of the latter until they get really used to plain milk.

After all, isn’t moderation healthy eating’s most important key?

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