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Is Evaporated Milk Bad For You?

Also Known As: Unsweetened condensed milk



Short answer

Evaporated milk provides a rich source of protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D, making it a nutritious addition to recipes. However, it contains higher amounts of sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to regular milk. This makes it less ideal for individuals managing heart health, cholesterol levels, or lactose intolerance. Its concentrated nutrients are beneficial, but moderation is key due to its potential impact on health conditions and dietary restrictions.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Evaporated Milk

The nutritional profile of evaporated milk is quite intriguing due to its concentrated form as a result of the water removal process. When evaluating whether evaporated milk is beneficial or detrimental to your health, understanding its nutritional content is crucial. Here's a breakdown of the key nutritional elements found in evaporated milk:

  • Macronutrients: A single cup of evaporated milk contains approximately 338 calories, 19 grams of protein, 9.8 grams of fat, and 24.5 grams of carbohydrates. Its high protein content makes it a filling addition to recipes, while the fat and carbohydrates provide energy.
  • Minerals: This milk form is particularly rich in calcium, essential for bone health, with 66% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in a single cup. It is also a good source of phosphorus and potassium, necessary for various bodily functions including regulation of blood pressure.
  • Vitamins: You'll find significant quantities of vitamin D, crucial for bone health and improving calcium absorption, and vitamin A, vital for maintaining good vision, immune function, and skin health.

However, it's pertinent to highlight that evaporated milk is often fortified with vitamins A and D, as are many dairy products, to enhance nutritional value. When regular milk is evaporated, the vitamins can be lost, hence the need for fortification. Natural nutrient levels may vary based on factors such as the cow's diet and processing methods.

While the above details outline the basic nutrients present, individuals concerned with other dietary components like sugars and saturated fats should consider the following:

  • Sugars: Though unsweetened, evaporated milk has a naturally higher sugar content due to lactose concentration during the evaporation process. A cup contains about 25 grams of sugars, which can impact blood sugar levels.
  • Saturated fats: A cup of evaporated milk has around 6 grams of saturated fat, which is nearly 30% of the RDA. High intake of saturated fats is linked to increased risk of heart disease, making it a concern for individuals with related health issues.

For those keeping an eye on sodium intake, evaporated milk contains about 267 milligrams of sodium per cup. While it's not a significant amount for those with no existing health concerns, it could be critical for those on a low-sodium diet.

The nutritional content of evaporated milk indeed positions it as a potentially nutritious option, packed with some essential vitamins and minerals. Nonetheless, it's equally important to factor in its sugar, saturated fat, and overall calorie content when integrating it into your diet, particularly for those managing specific health conditions or dietary restrictions. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help you determine the appropriate role of evaporated milk in your diet based on its nutritional profile.

Below is a quick-reference table summarizing the nutritional content of evaporated milk:

Nutrient Amount per Cup % Daily Value
Calories 338 -
Protein 19g 38%
Fat 9.8g 15%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Carbohydrates 24.5g 8%
Sugars 25g -
Calcium 658mg 66%
Vitamin D 2.9μg 14%
Vitamin A 442IU 9%
Potassium 850mg 24%
Phosphorus 506mg 51%
Sodium 267mg 11%

Keep in mind that these figures are approximate and can vary between brands and batches. Additionally, the percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so individual needs may vary. It's always a good idea to read the nutrition label of the specific product you're using to ensure accuracy.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol in Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk, often considered a staple in baking and cooking, is whole milk with about 60% of the water removed. Due to its concentrated form, it contains a higher amount of saturated fat and cholesterol compared to regular milk. Understanding how these components impact health is essential for making informed dietary choices.

Saturated Fat Content

  • An average serving (1/4 cup) of evaporated milk contains about 2 grams of saturated fat.
  • This accounts for roughly 10% of the recommended daily intake for saturated fats, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • Consuming high amounts of saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association.

Cholesterol Content

  • Evaporated milk offers approximately 14 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.
  • While not excessively high on its own, this can contribute significantly to the daily limit of 200-300 milligrams for those watching their cholesterol intake.
  • Cholesterol in the diet, especially when coupled with high saturated fat intake, can lead to plaque buildup in arteries, known as atherosclerosis.

Contextualizing Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

  • It's important to look at your overall diet when considering the implications of saturated fat and cholesterol from evaporated milk. Balanced eating that includes a variety of food groups can often mitigate the impact of these compounds.
  • Experts like the American Heart Association recommend that saturated fats should make up less than 5–6% of daily calories for individuals with high cholesterol.
  • Choosing low-fat or fat-free evaporated milk can be a suitable alternative for those concerned about saturated fat and cholesterol levels.

Dietary guidelines and research evolve, so it's critical to stay informed through current studies:

  • A meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine found mixed evidence on the correlation between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease, suggesting the need for more nuanced guidelines tailored to individual health profiles.
  • Further studies have indicated that not all sources of saturated fats have the same impact on health, as found in research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
  • Frequent updates from organizations such as the American College of Cardiology and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer up-to-date information on saturated fat and cholesterol consumption.

When considering evaporated milk in your diet, it's advisable to take into account your personal health goals, existing conditions, and overall dietary patterns. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a dietitian can provide personalized guidance aligned with the latest nutritional science.

Lactose Content and Digestive Sensitivity Issues

Lactose, a type of sugar naturally present in milk and dairy products, is a crucial component to consider when assessing the effects of evaporated milk on digestive health. Evaporated milk, which is milk that has been reduced to about 60% of its original volume by removing water through heating, still contains lactose in a concentrated form.

For individuals who are lactose intolerant, consuming evaporated milk may lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Lactose intolerance occurs due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose in the digestive system.

Interestingly, the lactose content in evaporated milk is proportionately higher than in regular milk because of the water removal process. To put this into perspective, the following table compares the lactose content in evaporated milk to that of regular whole milk:

Milk Type Lactose Content per 100g
Evaporated milk 10.1g
Whole milk 4.8g

This increased concentration of lactose may exacerbate symptoms for those with lactose intolerance. However, it's important to note that everyone’s tolerance level to lactose varies, and some may be able to consume small amounts of evaporated milk without issues. But for those with higher sensitivity, the condensed lactose content could trigger digestive discomfort.

Experts suggest that those with lactose intolerance who consume evaporated milk might consider using lactase enzyme supplements to aid digestion. These supplements provide the necessary enzyme to break down lactose and may help minimize the adverse digestive reactions associated with lactose intolerance.

Besides lactose intolerance, people with other digestive sensitivities and conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may also experience symptoms when consuming high-lactose foods like evaporated milk. It's essential to pay attention to individual responses and consult a healthcare provider or a dietitian to manage symptoms effectively while including or excluding certain dairy products in the diet.

For individuals without lactose intolerance or other digestive sensitivities, evaporated milk is generally well-tolerated. Nonetheless, being aware of the lactose content is beneficial for those monitoring their intake due to personal preferences or dietary restrictions.

Additives and Stabilizers in Commercial Evaporated Milk

When evaluating the nutritional profile of commercial evaporated milk, it's crucial to understand the function and potential impact of the additives and stabilizers commonly found in these products. From preserving freshness to enhancing texture, these ingredients play various roles, but sometimes at a cost to your health.

Dipotassium Phosphate: Dipotassium phosphate is often incorporated as an emulsifier to prevent separation in dairy products. A study published in the European Food Safety Authority Journal deemed it safe for consumption; however, excessive intake can lead to an imbalance in phosphate levels, which may be concerning for those with kidney disorders.

Carrageenan: Carrageenan, a thickening agent derived from seaweed, has been the subject of debate. According to research outlined in the Journal of Food Science, it is generally considered safe for consumption. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that carrageenan could contribute to gastrointestinal inflammation or discomfort, particularly in individuals with sensitive digestive systems.

Vitamin D Fortification: Many brands of evaporated milk are fortified with Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for bone health and immune function. The Institute of Medicine recommends fortification as a means to prevent deficiency, particularly in regions with limited sunlight exposure.

Sugar: Some varieties of evaporated milk may contain added sugars. Consuming products with added sugars can contribute to a range of health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as per studies referenced by the American Heart Association. It's important for consumers to check labels for sugar content, especially for those monitoring carbohydrate intake.

Understanding the role of these additives and stabilizers can guide consumers in making informed choices. Opting for evaporated milk with minimal additives may be a more health-conscious decision, especially for individuals with specific dietary restrictions or health conditions. Always read the ingredient label and consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.

Evaporated Milk Versus Other Dairy and Non-Dairy Alternatives

When it comes to dairy and non-dairy alternatives, the choices available can be overwhelming. Evaporated milk, a concentrated form of milk with 60% of the water removed, presents a unique set of nutritional aspects compared to its counterparts. To gauge if it's an appropriate choice for your dietary needs, let's explore how evaporated milk stacks up against other milks and milk substitutes.

Whole Milk: Regular whole milk contains more water and less fat and calories per volume compared to evaporated milk. Whole milk typically undergoes pasteurization, not evaporation, which slightly alters the protein structure. Whole milk offers a lighter taste and texture, which may be preferred for everyday use, but lacks the shelf stability of evaporated milk.

Skim and Low-Fat Milk: These milks have significant reductions in fat content as compared to evaporated milk, which is based on whole milk. They are lower in calories and may be a better option for those looking to reduce fat intake. However, evaporated milk has a richer taste and creamier texture which might be desired in cooking and baking applications.

Lactose-Free Milk: Designed for individuals with lactose intolerance, lactose-free milk has an enzyme added that breaks down lactose. Evaporated milk still contains lactose, and thus may not be suitable for those with this dietary restriction.

Plant-Based Milks: Alternatives such as almond, soy, coconut, and oat milk differ significantly from evaporated milk regarding nutrient profile, taste, and culinary uses. Most plant-based milks are naturally lower in protein and may be fortified with vitamins and minerals. They are also often lower in calories and fat and do not contain cholesterol or lactose, making them suitable for vegans, those with certain allergies, and individuals with digestive concerns.

Condensed Milk: Often confused with evaporated milk, condensed milk is sweetened and significantly higher in sugar and calories. While both are concentrated forms of milk, their uses differ greatly. Evaporated milk can be sweetened to taste and offers more versatility in both sweet and savory dishes.

Powdered Milk: This dehydrated form of milk has a different storage and reconstitution process. Powdered milk can be reconstituted with water to make liquid milk or used in powdered form in recipes. Compared to evaporated milk, powdered milk has a much longer shelf life but may lack some of the creamy texture that evaporated milk provides.

In summary, the choice between evaporated milk versus other dairy and non-dairy alternatives depends on individual dietary needs, preference for taste and texture, cooking and baking requirements, and any specific health considerations such as lactose intolerance or fat content. An understanding of these options can guide you to make a well-informed decision that aligns with your nutritional goals.

Frequently asked questions

Evaporated milk contains a higher concentration of lactose than regular milk due to the water removal process. Therefore, it may not be suitable for those with lactose intolerance as it can exacerbate symptoms. Alternatives like lactose-free milk or plant-based milks might be more appropriate for those with this condition.

Evaporated milk is often fortified with vitamin D, similar to other dairy products, to enhance its nutritional profile. The fortification levels can make it comparable to other dairy sources of vitamin D, but it's always best to check the nutritional label for the exact amounts as they can vary between brands.

Yes, evaporated milk is a good source of protein, providing about 19 grams per cup, making it a filling and nutritious option for vegetarians who include dairy in their diet. However, it's essential to balance it with other proteins sources and take into account its high saturated fat content.

The sugars in unsweetened evaporated milk are primarily lactose, which is naturally occurring. These are different from added sugars, which can contribute to various health issues if consumed in excess. Unsweetened evaporated milk does not typically contain added sugars, making it a healthier choice compared to sweetened condensed milk or flavored dairy products with sugar added.

Ask a question about Evaporated Milk and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased risk of heart disease
  • atherosclerosis
  • digestive discomfort
  • imbalance in phosphate levels

Ingredients to be aware of


  • high in protein
  • rich in calcium
  • contains vitamins d and a
  • source of phosphorus and potassium

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Coconut Milk

  • No guar gum
  • USDA Organic
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Unsweetened
  • Conveniently canned
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

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