FACTS ABOUT MILK
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrums, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many diseases in the baby. Milk contains many other nutrients and the carbohydrate lactose. The majority of the world's people are lactose intolerant.
Milk is nature’s wonder beverage. It helps build strong bones and lower blood pressure. It may reduce the risk of diabetes and it can help you maintain a healthy weight. It is both tasty and satisfying.
There is no other food or beverage that provides the same health benefits as milk.
It’s a powerful package of goodness, containing important nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, high-quality protein and vitamins A and D.
Milk is a great nutrition deal for your food dollar.
Spend some time with these fun brochures and info graphics to learn more about milk and cheese:
Most milk undergoes processing before you buy it at the store. The three primary steps include: pasteurization, homogenization and fortification.
Pasteurization heats the milk to destroy harmful microorganisms and prolong shelf life. Normal pasteurization keeps milk safer while maintaining its valuable nutrients. Ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk is pasteurized at a much higher temperature to make it sterile. UHT milk is then packed into special containers that keep it safe without requiring refrigeration.
After pasteurization, milk undergoes homogenization to prevent separation of the milk fat from the fluid milk. Homogenization creates a smooth, uniform texture.
Finally, milk is fortified to increase its nutritional value or to replace nutrients lost during processing. Vitamin D is added to most milk produced in the United States to facilitate the absorption of calcium. Vitamin A is frequently added to reduced-fat, low-fat and fat-free milks. Vitamin A promotes normal vision, particularly helping the eyes to adjust to low-light settings. Check the Nutrients in Milk page for a complete listing of the key nutrients found in milk.
Types of Milk
The primary types of milk sold in stores are: whole milk, reduced-fat milk (2%), low-fat milk(1%), and fat-free milk. The percentages included in the names of the milk indicate how much fat is in the milk by weight.
Whole milk (3.25% fat) is what comes from the cow before, while reduced-fat milk (2% fat), low-fat milk (1% fat), and fat-free or skim milk (0% fat) undergo processing to remove extra fat that comes from the cream. Besides the noticeable difference in taste, whole milk and low-fat or skim milks differ in their fat, nutrient, and calorie content.
Of the four options, whole milk has the highest amount of saturated fat and calories, with around 150 calories(compared to skim milk’s 90 calories) and four grams of saturated fat per eight-ounce serving. While whole milk has more saturated fat, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—more and more research suggests saturated fat may not actually be unhealthy. Whole milk does contain more cholesterol per eight-ounce serving—24 milligrams of cholesterol compared to skim milk’s five milligrams, but some studies have found that whole milk might not increase total cholesterol, and may actually raise good HDL cholesterol levels
Skim milk is made by physically separating and removing the fat content from whole dairy milk. Since fat removal also strips the milk of all its fat-soluble vitamins, skim milk must be fortified with vitamins A and D to make up for the loss of nutrition. For the general population, skim milk serves as an excellent nutritional substitute for whole milk. It is the more favorable choice if you are on a reduced fat diet or have a higher risk of heart disease. However, there are experts who question the safety of the skimming process and argue that drinking skim milk instead of whole milk can result in adverse health effects.
reduced-fat milk contains 2% milk fat and low-fat milk contains 1% milk fat.
Fat-free milk, also called nonfat or skim, contains no more than 0.2% milk fat.
Making low-fat and fat-free milk involves skimming the cream from whole milk out of the final product. Unfortunately, fat-soluble vitamins D, A, E, and K (which are found in the milk fat) go along with it. As a result, reduced-fat, low-fat, and skim milks contain lower amounts of many nutrients, but milk companies (even some organic brands!) have figured out how to add these vitamins back in during processing to fortify the final product with nutrients, particularly vitamins A and D. Some brands also boost their product with powdered milk solids to achieve the thick, white texture we’re accustomed to seeing (since fat-free milk is naturally blue-tinted and pretty watery). Fortification ensures that lower-fat milks are nutritionally similar to whole milk and can remain a significant source of vitamins in the diet. Regardless, whole milk proponents argue that fat-soluble vitamins are not as easily absorbed without the milk fat present.
All of these milks contain the nine essential nutrients found in whole milk but less fat. The United States government sets minimum standards for fluid milk that is produced and sold. Reduced fat milks have all of the nutrients of full fat milk; no water is added to these types of milk.
All milk must comply with very stringent safety standards and is among the most highly regulated and safest foods available. Organic milk is produced by dairy farmers that use only organic fertilizers and organic pesticides, and their cows are not given supplemental hormones (rBST). Dairy farmers and producers make many specialty forms of milk to meet consumer preferences and needs. Organic milk is also available as lactose-free and ultra-pasteurized.
The organic label is not a judgment about the quality or safety of the milk. As with all organic foods, it's the process that makes milk organic, not the final product. The nutrient content of organic milk is the same as standard milk and offers no additional health benefits compared to standard milk. Stringent government standards that include testing all types of milk for antibiotic and pesticide residues ensure that both organic milk and conventional milk are pure, safe and nutritious.1
lactose-free milk. It has added lactase to break down the lactose. It also has about the same nutrients as regular milk.
How to choose milk?
Dairy milk comes in many varieties to match the wide range of consumer preferences.
§ Do you like your milk creamy but not too rich? Then low-fat milk is a good choice.
§ Do you prefer a light taste and low calories? Then fat-free milk might be for you.
§ Do you have trouble digesting lactose? Then lactose-free milk might be your best choice.
§ Is your baby a year old and being weaned from the bottle? Then select whole milk for their second year of life.
§ Need boxes of milk to put in your child's lunch box? The single portion, shelf-stable milk boxes will meet your need.
There is a variety and choice to fit every age and lifestyle.
Choosing between whole, skim, or low-fat milk is largely a matter of personal choice in terms of diet, use, and preference. Skim or low-fat milk might be a better choice for people who are trying to hit specific daily caloric goals or those who already obtain a lot of fat from other foods in their diet. For people trying to gain weight, build muscle, or obtain more natural nutrients, whole milk makes a lot more sense. Each option has both benefits and drawbacks, so picking “the best milk” is more about balance than one right or wrong choice—a little skim milk with cereal, some whole milk in a protein shake, and a dash of 2% in a cup of coffee seems like a good compromise.
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