Powdered milk nutrition, glycemic index, calories, and serving size
Complete nutrition and health benefits analysis for Powdered milk
Milk has been a prominent source of nutrients, especially protein, for humans for thousands of years. However, the perishable quality of milk makes it difficult to transport a long distance or preserve for an extensive period of time. For this reason, humans have found ways to transform milk into more lasting products, such as powdered milk.
Powdered milk, also known as milk powder or dried milk, is a dairy product, produced by evaporating water from milk. This article will talk about everything important regarding powdered milk, based on scientific evidence.
Milk powder is a dairy product from which the water has been removed to the greatest extent possible, thus creating hurdles in the growth of microorganisms. Production of dry milk consists of the following processing steps - reception, clarification, cooling and storage, standardization, heat treatment, evaporation, homogenization, drying, and packaging (1).
The quality of the powdered milk is greatly decided by the quality of the liquid milk it has been prepared from. The process of reception is about selecting the raw milk of a high standard.
The heat treatment rids the milk of any pathogens.
The only two methods used today in the drying process of industrially produced dry milk are spray-drying and roller-drying. Spray-drying is the more popular option (1).
During the process of manufacturing, some beneficial nutrients may be added to produce fortified powdered milk, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium.
Normal dry whole milk is light yellow but varies reasonably with the color in the fat from a creamy white to a deep yellow (1). Wrongly stored or manufactured dry milk can be darker or lighter in color:
- Browned or darkened: When this defect is present, the normal creamy color has been replaced by a distinct brown. This defect is usually associated with an old, stale flavor.
- Scorched: Discoloration due to browning of the milk solids is usually associated with the roller-drying process. The powder may vary from light to dark brown.
- Lack of uniformity: This defect may be due to either partial discoloration after packaging or partial scorching during the manufacturing process (1).
The product should be free-flowing to some extent and with no lumps. Lumpy milk powder lacks homogeneity. This defect is found frequently in the spray process product. Lumps form due to insufficient drying, dripping from spray nozzles, or exposure to moisture-laden air. Hard lumps can range in size from a grain of wheat upward (1).
Rarely, dry milk can also lose its powdery consistency and become rock-solid. In this case, milk solids have lost their value for human consumption (1).
After adding water, whole dry milk should have a pleasant, clean, rich, sweet, and fresh flavor. Reconstituted powder milk tends to have a milder taste when compared to milk. However, whole fat powder milk has a stronger flavor than non-fat or low-fat dry milk.
Defects in taste may be the result of poor quality ingredients, wrong manufacturing conditions or drying methods, and incorrect storage conditions (1). Common flavor defects are:
- Stale: This is a characteristic age defect associated with protein. This defect closely resembles the musty flavor common to casein. This defect is observed in dry milk after storage for 9 months. When the defect is intense, it may be accompanied by a darkening of the product.
- Rancid: Rancid whole milk powder has a bitter, soapy, unclean taste, which is persistent after the sample has been chewed up and spit out. The reason may be insufficient temperature used for prior warming and the lipase enzyme that remains active and causes rancidity.
- Oxidized or tallow: It is the most troublesome flavor defect of milk powder. Many factors are responsible for the development of this defect such as temperature, light, moisture, acidity, metallic salts, condensation, and type of packaging.
- Scorched: This flavor is produced in products that have been subjected to excessive heat during the drying stage or have been permitted to remain in the drying chamber for a too long period of time. It is usually accompanied by a large number of scorched specks in the product and sometimes by a dark discoloration typical of overheating (1).
Powdered milk is often rehydrated back into liquid form by adding water. However, it can also be used dry in various recipes, especially in baking.
Ingredients can be added to powdered milk along with water to get chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry milk.
While the amount of water used for reconstituting milk can be an individual decision based on preference, a quarter cup of milk powder is usually used with one cup of water to rehydrate the dry milk.
Powdered milk can also be used to make other dairy products, such as sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, yogurt, and even cheese.
Dry milk is an important ingredient in a sweet called gulab jamun, popular in South and Southeast Asia. Gulab jamun is made by a process of mixing ingredients into a dough, forming the dough into balls, deep-frying, and dropping it into simmering sugar syrup.
Milk powder should be stored in airtight containers, it is recommended to try to remove the air from the container before sealing it.
Powdered milk should be stored in a dry, dark, and cool space.
Powdered milk is recommended to use within 6 months after opening for maximum freshness. However different kinds of milk powders have different shelf lives.
When stored properly the shelf life of whole milk powder is one year. Goat’s milk powder can be kept from 6 months to a year, while organic whole milk powder can be stored for up to two years (2).
The varieties of powdered milk are decided based on what kind of milk it has been made from and what method of processing has been used.
Powdered milk made from nonfat or skim milk is accordingly named nonfat dry milk or skim milk powder and contains less than 1.5% fat by weight. Similarly, powdered milk made from whole milk is called whole milk powder and consists of 26 to 40% fats. While non-fat and skim milk powders have the same fat content, unlike skim milk powder, non-fat milk powder also has a required minimum protein content of 34%.
Skim and non-fat milk powders can also be classified depending on their processing methods: high-heat (least soluble), medium-heat, and low-heat (most soluble) (3).
Depending on the kind of milk used, dry milk can be cow’s milk powder, goat’s milk powder, camel’s milk powder, and so on. However, the most common milk powder found in the stores is made from cow milk.
Different kinds of powdered milk can also be made by removing water from other dairy products, such as yogurt and buttermilk.
The nutritional values in this article are presented for whole, dry milk without added vitamin D.
Macronutrients and Calories
Powdered milk is naturally high in nutrients and contains a low percentage of water. Powdered milk contains only 2.47% water.
Dry milk does not have a set average serving size by the Food and Drug Administration. However, adding one cup of water to a quarter cup of dry milk can substitute a cup of liquid milk. This article will present values of nutrients focusing on an average serving size of a quarter cup or 32g of powdered milk.
Dry milk can be considered to be a high calorie food, as a quarter cup of powdered milk provides 159 calories.
A cup of low-fat milk, at the same time, contains only 103 calories, while a cup of whole-fat milk has 152 calories (4).
Milk is famously an excellent source of protein. Powdered milk is no exception. A quarter cup of dry milk provides 8.42g of protein.
Similarly, a cup of whole milk provides 8.2g of protein. Overall, milk and dry milk have a similar protein composition.
The protein found in milk is considered to be a complete protein, meaning it is of high quality as it provides high levels of all essential amino acids.
Powdered milk contains relatively lower levels of methionine and phenylalanine while being very rich in tryptophan, threonine, and isoleucine.
The chief protein in milk is named casein. Casein is a family of poorly soluble proteins, bound to phosphorus and calcium, that make up 70 to 80% of the protein found in cow milk. Casein is also responsible for the color of milk (5).
The other 20% of protein is made up of so-called whey protein. This is a family of soluble, globular proteins, such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactoglobulin, and serum albumin. Whey is also rich in vitamins and minerals (5).
A quarter-cup serving of powdered milk contains 8.54g of fats. In comparison, one serving size of low-fat milk contains only 2.4g of fats and one cup of whole-fat milk provides 8g of fats.
The fat content of powdered milk is made up predominantly of saturated fat. In every quarter cup of dry milk, 5.34g of saturated fat can be found. This means that saturated fat makes up 63% of the fats in powdered milk.
Saturated fatty acids are more harmful compared to unsaturated fats. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend the restriction of saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories to reduce cardiovascular disease risk (6).
A quarter cup of powdered milk also contains 2.53g of monounsaturated fats and only 0.2g of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Powdered milk contains 31g of cholesterol per quarter-cup serving. In comparison, one cup of low-fat milk contains only 12g of cholesterol, while 30g of cholesterol can be found in a cup of whole-fat milk.
A quarter-cup serving of powdered milk provides 12.3g of carbohydrates. 100% of these fats are made up of sugars, more specifically of lactose, as dry milk contains no dietary fiber.
For comparison, low-fat milk contains 12.7g of carbohydrates and whole-fat milk has 12g of carbohydrates, all made up of lactose.
Lactose is a sugar that can be found only in milk products. It is a disaccharide, meaning it is composed of two simple sugar molecules - glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerance is a common digestive disorder that occurs when the body is unable to break down lactose into glucose and galactose. More information about this can be found in the “Health Impact” section.
Powdered milk is very dense in nutrients. It is in the top 10% of foods as a source of vitamin B2 and in the top 20% of foods as a source of vitamin A.
Powdered milk is a great source of vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin B5, and vitamin B1. Ample amounts of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin B3 can also be found in dry milk.
In short, powdered milk has no lack of vitamins.
Liquid milk tends to have higher levels of most vitamins. However, dry milk is relatively richer in folate and vitamin E.
Powdered milk is also a great source of most minerals, especially calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Dry milk is in the top 5% of foods as a source of calcium and in the top 6% of foods as a source of potassium.
Powdered milk provides high levels of magnesium and zinc as well.
Dry milk contains sufficient levels of selenium, copper, manganese, iron, and choline.
Dry milk is high in sodium, containing 119mg of sodium per quarter-cup serving. Powdered milk is higher in sodium when compared to low-fat or whole-fat milk.
Without added carbohydrate sources, whole milk powder has similar glycemic index values to standard liquid whole milk (7). Standard liquid milk has a low glycemic index of 31 (8).
The glycemic index of powdered milk has been calculated to fall in the range of 23±4 to 68±6, depending on the amount of added carbohydrates. Products containing maltodextrins, corn, or glucose syrups increase the glycemic index by more than 2-fold, and glycemic load by 7-fold compared to milk powders with no added carbohydrates (7).
The glycemic load of milk powder ranges from 3 to 18.
Powdered milk, with no added carbohydrates, has a low glycemic index while adding carbohydrates can significantly raise the glycemic index value of dry milk.
Milk products, including milk powder, produce a high insulin response while having a low glycemic index, due to their specific protein composition (9).
The acidity of powdered milk is close to neutral, with the pH value falling in the range of 6.6 to 6.8. No significant variation can be seen among different brands of powder milk (10).
Similarly, the normal range of pH for milk is 6.5 to 6.7.
The acidity of foods can also be demonstrated by looking at their potential renal acid load or PRAL values. This value shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the gastrointestinal tract.
The PRAL value for powdered milk has been calculated to be -0.4. This shows that powdered milk is only slightly alkaline-forming.
Weight Loss & Diets
Whole powdered milk is high in calories, fats, and carbohydrates. One quarter-cup serving of whole dry milk provides 159 calories. At the same time, a quarter-cup serving of non-fat dry milk, being significantly lower in fats, contains 113 calories (11).
Non-fat, skim or low-fat powdered milk is the better choice for low-fat or low-calorie diets.
Despite the high calorie content, non-fat dry milk has been researched to help reduce weight gain and associated fatty tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese rats (12).
There is little evidence to support a concern to limit the consumption of milk and other dairy products for children on the grounds that they may promote obesity (13).
A keto diet allows for up to 20 to 30g of carbohydrate intake per day. One quarter-cup serving of powdered milk contains 12.3g of carbohydrates. This means powdered milk is not advisable on a keto diet and should only be used in strict moderation.
A DASH diet, aiming to lower blood pressure, focuses on low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Powdered milk is often not only high in fats but also sodium. One quarter-cup serving of dry milk contains 119mg of sodium. Therefore, powdered milk, especially whole fat, should be avoided on a DASH diet. However, contrarily, some research has found fortified powdered milk intake to reduce blood pressure (16).
Dry or liquid milk is not allowed in Phase 1 of the Atkins diet or the Induction phase. You can start using whole milk or powdered milk starting from Phase 2, but only in moderation and with no added carbohydrates (14).
A traditional Mediterranean diet includes low to moderate consumption of dairy products - usually cheese and yogurt. Powdered milk is not advisable to use on a Mediterranean diet. Dry milk with added carbohydrates should especially be avoided.
A strict paleo diet excludes dairy products from the acceptable foods list. However, some people choose to incorporate whole fat milk into their paleo diets. Naturally, powder milk was not eaten during the paleolithic era, however, whether or not to use powder milk on a paleo diet is a personal choice.
Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Pescetarian
As a dairy product, powdered milk naturally fits into a vegetarian and pescetarian diet, but not into a vegan diet.
Powdered milk is a gluten-free product.
While non-fat milk powder can be consumed in moderation during the Attack phase, it is not recommended.
Like most foods, dry milk can be used during eating periods but should be avoided during fasting periods.
Low Fat & Low Calorie
Non-fat or low-fat powdered milk can fit in a low fat diet, whilst whole-fat dry milk does not. However, both non-fat and whole fat dry milk are high calorie foods and do not fit in a low calorie diet.
One quarter-cup serving size of whole dry milk contains 12g of carbohydrates. Therefore, powdered milk does not suit a low carb diet.
Research has suggested that pasteurized and powdered milk, as well as fermented dairy products, display an anti-inflammatory effect, particularly on oral fibroblasts and oral epithelial cells (15). This implies that powdered milk can be used on an anti-inflammatory diet.
Milk and dairy, including powdered milk, should be avoided on a BRAT diet, as consumption may worsen diarrhea.
As powdered milk has nearly the same nutritional properties as liquid milk, it also has very similar impacts on health, both positive and negative.
Milk powder presents a good opportunity to add missing micronutrients to an everyday diet. Research has shown that together with other preventive interventions, the consumption of milk powder fortified with potassium and phytosterols represents a cost-effective strategy to attenuate the rapid increase in cardiovascular burden in various countries (16, 17).
Fortified milk powder may reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing blood pressure and low density lipoprotein levels. Overall, dairy product consumption, except for butter, has also been shown to decrease arterial stiffness and lower the risk of stroke (16).
Despite the high saturated fat content of whole milk or whole powdered milk, research has implied that dairy consumption induces a positive or neutral effect on human cardiovascular health (18).
Milk powder, supplemented with insulin and resistant dextrin, has been researched to help improve glycemic control, insulin resistance, and blood pressure in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (19).
One study identified unique compounds, namely oxylipins and endocannabinoids in the blood plasma of diet-induced obese rats, fed a diet rich in non-fat milk powder high in calcium. These rats were found to display decreased adiposity, markedly reduced fatty change, lower inflammation of fat tissue, and improved glucose homeostasis (20).
Dairy consumption, including powdered milk consumption, even in moderate amounts, has been associated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as favorable changes in waist circumference, body mass index, and blood pressure (21).
Camel milk powder has also been studied as a potential functional food to help prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus (22).
Dairy products are famously high in calcium and essential for bone health. High dairy consumption can help maintain dental health and prevent osteoporosis.
Postmenopausal women are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis due to hormonal changes. Consumption of high-calcium milk powder is effective in reducing bone loss at the lumbar spine among healthy postmenopausal women. Supplementing with high-calcium milk powder had additional benefits of reducing height loss (23).
Supplementation with milk powder is also effective in enhancing bone growth in children (24).
However, milk powder supplementation in healthy pubertal adolescents may not have a significant effect on bone turnover and mineralization (25).
Studies have not reached a definitive conclusion about the association between dairy consumption and the risk of cancer.
Research has found an inverse association between milk consumption and the risk of colorectal and bladder cancer (26).
Casein is the major protein in milk powder and can display comparative anticancer activity. Whey-containing diets have also been shown to reduce colon and mammary cancers in laboratory animals (27).
Research has concluded that harm for normal people could only occur with absolutely excessive and indiscriminate consumption rather than regular moderate daily intake as advised by nutritionists, or products that are grossly, and illegally, contaminated with environmental pollutants or certain toxicants could spell harm to human health (27).
Downsides and Risks
Lactose intolerance is a decreased ability to digest the main sugar found in milk and milk powder - lactose. It is a common digestive disorder among adults. The disorder is caused by a lack of an enzyme in the small intestine, called lactase, that normally breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose.
Common symptoms of lactose intolerance are diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and stomach cramps after consuming dairy products.
Most people with lactose intolerance are born producing enough lactase, however, lose the ability as they grow into adulthood. This is a genetic lactase deficiency, called primary lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance can also develop as a result of injury or a disease, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or intestinal infections. This is called secondary lactose intolerance.
Rarely, a genetic defect can cause congenital lactose intolerance.
Despite the common misconception, lactose intolerance and milk allergy are not the same. Milk allergy is an overreaction from the immune system towards particles found in milk and dairy products made from milk.
Milk allergy is one of the most common allergies found in children. However, most of these children overgrow their milk allergy before the age of 16 (28).
Symptoms of a milk allergy include hives, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis.
The cause of milk allergy is often one or both of the proteins found in cow milk - casein and whey. Children who have had an allergic reaction to cow’s milk may also react to sheep’s, goat’s milk, or even soy milk.
During the processing of milk into powder milk, certain compounds decrease in content, while other compounds may be added.
Heat treatments and homogenization of milk cause oxidation of valuable anticancer conjugated linoleic acid through exposure to high temperatures, high pressures, and reduction of fat globule size (27).
Products of cholesterol oxidation are found in dairy products. However, the content of cholesterol oxidation products in milk and dairy is very small. The formation of cholesterol oxidation products in milk and dairy can only occur under harsh conditions, such as the application of high heating temperatures for a long period or long storage at high temperatures, and in the case of foods in the dehydrated state or at low water activities (27).
Powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, a product that further contributes to oxidative stress. Cholesterol oxidation products have many negative biological effects such as atherogenic, cytotoxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic (27).
Certain studies have also found a positive association between diets high in calcium and the risk of prostate cancer (26).
In the thirteenth century, Marco Polo reported that soldiers of Kublai Khan carried dried milk on excursions. It is said that part of the fat was removed from the milk before drying and dehydration was achieved by solar heating.
The first usable commercial production of milk powder was invented by the Russian chemist M. Dirchoff in 1832. In 1850, Birdseye concentrated milk with added sugar, until a solid was obtained. In 1855, T. S. Grimwade filed a patent on the process of drying of milk, though William Newton had patented a vacuum-drying process as early as 1837.
The real beginning of the concentrated and dried dairy product industry began in the nineteenth century when Nicolas Appert, a French inventor, described his procedure for concentrating and drying milk. In 1909, Nicolas Appert developed dried milk in tablet form by air-drying of milk solids concentrated to a “dough” consistency. During the second half of the nineteenth century, attempts were made to produce dried milk, which involved the addition of other dry products to concentrated milk. Sugar, cereal products, and sodas, singly or in combinations, were added (1).
Important nutritional characteristics for Powdered milk
Powdered milk Glycemic index (GI)
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NEW NUTRITION FACTS LABEL
Serving Size ______________
Powdered milk nutrition infographic
Mineral coverage chart
Mineral chart - relative view
Vitamin coverage chart
Vitamin chart - relative view
Protein quality breakdown
Fat type information
Fiber content ratio for Powdered milk
All nutrients for Powdered milk per 100g
|Nutrient||DV%||In TOP % of foods||Value||Comparison|
|Protein||63%||10%||26.32g||9.3 times more than Broccoli|
|Fats||41%||9%||26.71g||1.2 times less than Cheese|
|Carbs||13%||24%||38.42g||1.4 times more than Rice|
|Calories||25%||7%||496kcal||10.6 times more than Orange|
|Sugar||0%||26%||38.42g||4.3 times more than Coca-Cola|
|Calcium||91%||5%||912mg||7.3 times more than Milk|
|Iron||6%||78%||0.47mg||5.5 times less than Beef|
|Magnesium||20%||16%||85mg||1.6 times less than Almond|
|Phosphorus||111%||8%||776mg||4.3 times more than Chicken meat|
|Potassium||39%||6%||1330mg||9 times more than Cucumber|
|Sodium||16%||28%||371mg||1.3 times less than White Bread|
|Zinc||30%||28%||3.34mg||1.9 times less than Beef|
|Copper||9%||63%||0.08mg||1.8 times less than Shiitake|
|Vitamin E||4%||54%||0.58mg||2.5 times less than Kiwifruit|
|Vitamin D||5%||48%||0.5µg||4.4 times less than Egg|
|Vitamin C||10%||25%||8.6mg||6.2 times less than Lemon|
|Vitamin B1||24%||28%||0.28mg||1.1 times more than Pea|
|Vitamin B2||93%||10%||1.21mg||9.3 times more than Avocado|
|Vitamin B3||4%||75%||0.65mg||14.8 times less than Turkey meat|
|Vitamin B5||45%||28%||2.27mg||2 times more than Sunflower seed|
|Vitamin B6||23%||39%||0.3mg||2.5 times more than Oat|
|Folate||9%||39%||37µg||1.6 times less than Brussels sprout|
|Vitamin B12||135%||22%||3.25µg||4.6 times more than Pork|
|Vitamin K||2%||64%||2.2µg||46.2 times less than Broccoli|
|Tryptophan||0%||44%||0.37mg||1.2 times more than Chicken meat|
|Threonine||0%||49%||1.19mg||1.7 times more than Beef|
|Isoleucine||0%||43%||1.59mg||1.7 times more than Salmon|
|Leucine||0%||44%||2.58mg||1.1 times more than Tuna|
|Lysine||0%||55%||2.09mg||4.6 times more than Tofu|
|Methionine||0%||54%||0.66mg||6.9 times more than Quinoa|
|Phenylalanine||0%||44%||1.27mg||1.9 times more than Egg|
|Valine||0%||42%||1.76mg||1.2 times less than Soybean|
|Histidine||0%||58%||0.71mg||Equal to Turkey meat|
|Cholesterol||32%||12%||97mg||3.8 times less than Egg|
|Saturated Fat||84%||7%||16.74g||2.8 times more than Beef|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0%||20%||7.92g||1.2 times less than Avocado|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0%||55%||0.67g||70.9 times less than Walnut|
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article and glycemic index text the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.