Milk is a food rich in protein and calcium, and is very important for preventing problems such as osteoporosis and for maintaining good muscle mass. Milk varies according to how it is produced, and in addition to cow’s milk, there are also vegetable drinks that are known as vegetable milks, which are made from grains such as soy, nuts, and almonds.
Regular consumption of whole cow’s milk, which is milk that still has its natural fat, has the following health benefits:
- Prevent osteoporosis, as it is rich in calcium and contains vitamin D;
- Help muscle growth, because it is rich in protein;
- Improve the intestinal flora, because it contains oligosaccharides, nutrients that are consumed by the beneficial bacteria in the intestine;
- Improve the functioning of the nervous system, because it is rich in vitamin B complex;
- Help control high blood pressure, because it is rich in amino acids with antihypertensive properties.
Whole milk contains vitamins A, E, K, and D, which are present in milk fat. On the other hand, skim milk, as it has no more fat, loses these nutrients.
In addition, it is important to remember that, despite its benefits, cow’s milk should not be offered to children under 1 year of age.
Types of Cow Milk
Cow’s milk can be whole milk, which is when it contains its natural fat, semi-skimmed milk, which is when part of the fat has been removed, or skimmed milk, which is when the industry removes all the fat from the milk, leaving only its carbohydrate and protein portion.
Furthermore, according to the manufacturing process, milk can be classified as follows:
- Pure or natural cow milk: is the milk taken from the cow that goes directly to the consumer’s home, without going through any industrial process;
- Pasteurized milk: is the milk from a bag that is stored in the refrigerator. It has been heated at 65ºC for 30 minutes or at 75ºC for 15 to 20 seconds in order to eliminate bacteria.
- UHT milk: is the milk in a carton or known as “long-life milk”, which does not need to be kept in the refrigerator before opening. It has been heated to 140°C for four seconds, also to eliminate bacteria.
- Powdered milk: This is made by dehydrating whole cow’s milk. In this way, the industry removes all the water from liquid milk, turning it into a powder that can be reconstituted by adding water again.
All of these milk products, with the exception of natural cow’s milk, can be found in supermarkets in whole, semi-skimmed, or skimmed versions.
Nutritional Information on Milk
The following table gives the nutritional information for 100 ml of each type of milk:
|Components||Whole milk (100 ml)||Skimmed milk (100 ml)|
|Energy||60 kcal||42 kcal|
|Vitamin B1||0,04 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0,17 mg|
|Sodium||49 mg||50 mg|
|Calcium||120 mg||223 mg|
|Potassium||152 mg||156 mg|
|Phosphorus||93 mg||96 mg|
Some people may have a difficulty digesting lactose, which is the carbohydrate in milk, and are diagnosed with Lactose Intolerance. Learn more about the symptoms and what to do in lactose intolerance.
Vegetable milks, which should be called vegetable drinks, are drinks made from the grinding of grains with water. So, to make almond milk, for example, one should pound the almond kernels with warm water and then strain the mixture, drawing out the nutritious drink.
The most commonly used vegetable drinks are made from grains such as soy, rice, nuts and almonds, in addition to the coconut vegetable drink. However, it is important to note that each of these drinks have their own nutrients and benefits, and are not similar to the characteristics of cow’s milk.