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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.