Milk is a favorite drink of many people throughout the world for centuries. Female mammals produce this nutrient-rich fluid to feed their little ones. Milk from cow, goat, and sheep is the commonly consumed types. It has minerals, vitamins, protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats that are vital for our body’s growth and development (1). Depending on various factors, the nutritional content in milk varies. The protein in milk contains all nine essential amino acids. Throughout the day, milk remains as the only source of calcium for most of the individuals. It also promotes muscle repair and reduces age-related muscle losses. Since milk is a versatile ingredient, you can add it to your diet in numerous ways. Adding whole milk to coffee, smoothies, or morning oatmeal helps to prevent weight gain. However, if you don’t like milk, then you can include products like yogurt, cheese, etc. derived from it.
Types of Dairy Milk
A variety of milk products can be made with many straining and mixing techniques. Before bottling the milk, fat content is extracted and added back at particular levels to produce different percent of milk variations.
- Whole Milk: The fat content is intact and it is thick & creamy. Per cup: 150 calories, 8 g fat (5 g sat fat), 106 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein.
- 2% Milk (Reduced Fat): 2% milk means the milk fat is 2% of the total weight of the milk. Per cup: 122 calories, 5 g fat (3 g sat fat), 125 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein.
- 1% Milk (Low Fat Milk): Contains 2.5 grams of fat and 100 calories per 8-ounce serving.
- Skim Milk (Fat-Free Milk): Milk fat is skimmed thus contains 0 grams of fat and 80 calories per 8-ounce serving.
Per cup: 80 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat fat), 125 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 12 g fiber, 8 g protein.
- Coconut Milk: Made from coconut flesh and water, has a creamy texture and mild flavor. Per cup (full-fat, canned): 445 calories, 48 g fat (43 g sat fat), 29 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 4.5 g protein.
- Soy Milk: Contains the same amount of protein as cow’s milk, has a mild flavor. Per cup: 105 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g sat fat), 115 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 0.5 g fiber, 6.5 g protein.
- Cashew Milk: Made from cashew and water, has a sweet and rich substitute. Per cup (unsweetened): 25 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat fat), 160 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, <1 g protein.
- Almond Milk: Made from almonds, low in calories and fat than cow’s milk. Per cup (unsweetened): 37 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g sat fat), 173 sodium, 1.5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 1.5 g protein.
- Oat Milk: Very mild in flavor with a thicker consistency, makes it a great addition to coffee. Per cup (unsweetened): 100 calories, 7 g fat (1 g sat fat), 100 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein.
- Rice Milk: Offers a medium sweet taste that is very pleasant; fat, cholesterol & lactose-free. Per serving of rice milk contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates. Per cup (unsweetened): 113 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g sat fat), 94 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 0.5 g fiber, 0.5 g protein.
- Lactose-Free Milk: Milk without lactose which is great for people who are lactose intolerant. Per cup (2% lactose-free milk): 122 calories, 5 g fat (3 g sat fat), 115 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein.
Here are a few Health Benefits of Milk:
1. Bone Health
Milk comprises calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D; this combination promotes strong and healthy bones, muscle movement, and nerve signals. When kids drink milk daily, their bone health advances, and it also enhances proper growth. Adults can benefit from regular milk consumption along with Vitamin D to help prevent bone fractures, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis (2). 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in bones. Since milk is rich in calcium, it aids in strengthening bones. So it is advisable to drink at least a glass of milk per day to prevent bone diseases (3). Genetics, physical activity, and proper calcium intake are the fundamental factors that contribute to healthy bones.
2. Heart Health
Potassium in milk helps to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. A combination of increased potassium intake and low sodium intake lowers blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. A huge quantity of saturated fat and cholesterol in cow’s milk can build the risk of heart disease, which is why people should eat dairy products in self-restraint. Thus we can keep blood pressure (4) and risk of cardiovascular diseases in check.
Two nutrients in milk, calcium, and vitamin D help to protect against cancer. Milk contains calcium, which aids in protecting the gut lining that reduces the risk of rectum or colon cancer (5). However, research has connected an excessive amount of calcium with prostate cancer. Vitamin D plays a vital role in cell growth regulation, which might shield against breast cancer, colon, and prostate cancer. But research has connected too much vitamin D levels to the risk of pancreatic cancer. There are many factors that influence cancer risk. So it is difficult to study cancer causes and risk factors.
4. Hair Care
Whole milk acts as a straightener. Along with milk, add one ripe banana, one tablespoon of honey, and strawberries for extra nourishment and pleasant smell. Blend the ingredients and apply them to your hair. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and rinse your hair with a mild shampoo (6). Adding some drops of rosemary essential oil with raw milk, which gives your hair a shiny look.
5. Skin Care
Milk is always an ingredient for face masks and natural moisturizers. We can also mix with powdered gram flour and red lentil for preparing face packs. It helps to achieve glow and lightens complexion. Drink 2 glasses of milk daily to get soft, supple, and glowing skin. As we age, proteins in milk help to promote skin elasticity (7). Vitamin D in milk has anti-inflammatory effects and also shields from UV rays. Milk consists of lactic acid that acts as an exfoliant to smoothen the skin. Likewise, the amino acids keep your skin moisturized. Similarly, the antioxidants prevent the damage caused by environmental toxins (8).
6. Dental Health
Milk contains a high source of calcium, which makes your teeth stronger (9). Lactose in milk helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay. Calcium, phosphorus, and protein content combined together forms a protective layer on the enamel or the surface of the teeth. Children who drink milk regularly will have good dental health reducing the risk of weak gums and decayed teeth.
Milk is rich in vitamins and minerals, because of which it is one of the most nutritious drinks in the world.
Some people may be allergic to milk or intolerant to lactose. In this case, they can prefer lactose free milk.
Drinking milk is good for children as it helps to improve health. For adults, dairy products reduce blood pressure, prevents bone fractures, osteoporosis, and tooth decay.