With its rich flavor, buttermilk makes a welcome addition to baked goods, as well as whole-grain pancakes and waffles. It has a thicker texture than milk and whole varieties of buttermilk can come loaded with fat. However, buttermilk also offers nutritional value, and provides several nutrients you need for good health.
Calories and Carbohydrates
One cup of reduced fat buttermilk contains 98 calories, which come from a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. One cup contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, which provide 48 of the 137 calories. All of the carbohydrates in one cup of buttermilk are sugar -- it contains no fiber or starch. These carbs help fuel your tissues during your day-to-day activities, and also provide energy needed for brain function. However, buttermilk's carbohydrate content includes lactose, a sugar that can cause negative side effects in those who are lactose intolerant.
One cup of reduced fat buttermilk contains 8g of protein, which makes up 32 of the 137 calories. This 8g of protein provides 18 percent of the dietary reference intake (DRI) for women and 14 percent for men. Protein plays an important role in tissue health because it provides you with amino acids -- the building blocks you need to keep your tissues strong. Getting enough protein also supports your immune system, protecting you from infection.
Fat and Cholesterol
One cup of reduced fat buttermilk contains 2.2 grams of fat, which supply 19 calories. Even in reduced fat buttermilk, the fat is primarily saturated fat -- the type of fat that raises harmful cholesterol levels, and increases the risk of heart disease. Each cup of low-fat buttermilk contains 1.3 grams of saturated fat. It also contains 10 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 3.3 percent of the maximum amount recommended per day by the American Heart Association.
Like most types of milk, buttermilk is high in calcium -- one cup provides 28 percent of the daily value. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is important for healthy bones and teeth. One cup of buttermilk also also provides 22 percent of the daily value for phosphorus -- a mineral that, like calcium, contributes to bone health.
Buttermilk contains numerous B vitamins, the most abundant of which is riboflavin. One cup of reduced fat buttermilk provides 22 percent of the daily value for riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Riboflavin assists in iron absorption, works with vitamin A to protect the digestive tract and is essential for the metabolism of some amino acids. One cup of buttermilk also supplies 9 percent of the daily value for B12, which is necessary to prevent some types of anemia. One cup of buttermilk supplies 6 percent of the value for thiamine as well.
- Medline Plus: Calcium
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A Balch, CNC; 2006
- Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamins
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Nutritional Goals
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fat and Cholesterol
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamins
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.