Does Milk Have Added Sugar?

Question: Does milk have added sugar?

Answer: Traditional white (plain) milk does contain sugar but it is not added sugar. White milk naturally contains a sugar known as lactose. Lactose is made up of two sugars known as glucose and galactose. The body produces an enzyme called lactase in the small intestine which breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. People who are lactose intolerant do not produce enough lactase to break down the lactose. There are also very minimal concentrations of other sugars in milk but lactose is by far the most prevalent.

Below you will see that the 2 percent milk nutrition facts reflect 12 grams of sugar. While this may seem like a lot, it is all natural sugar. You can tell by looking at the ingredients, which do not show sugar as an ingredient.

Plain (White) Milk, 2%

[nutrition-label id=3579]


Ingredients: Reduced Fat Milk, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3

Flavored Milk Sugar Content & Ingredients

Chocolate milk and other flavored milk products do commonly contain added sugar. Take a look at the below nutrition facts and ingredients for chocolate and strawberry milk. Both of the products contain sugar as an ingredient unlike plain milk. How much added sugar? The manufacturers do not disclose the amount of added sugar on the nutrition labels. However, we can estimate the added sugar by taking the sugar in flavored milk and subtracting the amount in plain milk. So, for the strawberry milk there would be about 12 grams of added sugar (22 grams in strawberry milk minus 12 grams in plain milk).

TruMoo 1% Lowfat Chocolate Milk

[nutrition-label id=3588]
Ingredients: Lowfat milk, sugar, contains less than 1% of: cocoa (processed with alkali), corn starch, salt, carrageenan, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3.

Nesquik Lowfat Strawberry Milk

[nutrition-label id=3592]
Ingredients: Lowfat milk with vitamin a palmitate and vitamin d3 added, sugar, less than 2% of modified corn starch, cellulose gel, calcium carbonate, gellan gum, natural and artificial flavors, cellulose gum, carrageenan, citric acid, salt, red 3.


In conclusion, stick with plain milk if you want to avoid added sugar in your milk. Flavored milk has added sugar and additives so you may want to drink it sparingly if you are looking to avoid these ingredients. Not all flavored milk products have the same ingredients. Some have much higher sugar and additives than others. If this is a concern for you, be sure to read the labels and do some comparisons of products at the store.