25 Types of Milk & What Is the Best Milk to Drink
Some of you may remember the days when the milkman delivered you a glass bottle of milk or cream, there were no hard choices, people just chose a delivery day, and the milk was there.
Today, the milk choices have become abundantly plentiful and choosing milk is no longer a simple, thoughtless task.
The supermarket dairy aisles are filled with animal, organic, grass-fed, soy, nut and numerous fat and flavor profiles of milk for you to choose from. Sometimes it may be difficult to make sense of all the choices.
Health Benefits of 25 Types of Milk
Most any kind of milk undergoes some type of processing before it hits the market’s dairy section, including the primary steps of pasteurization, homogenization, and fortification.
Pasteurization is a heat process that destroys naturally occurring harmful microorganisms found in milk that helps prolong its shelf life.
- Normal pasteurization – creates safer milk and also retains its valuable nutrients.
- Ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization is a process that uses a much higher temperature to sterilize the milk, after which it’s placed into containers that allow it to remain fresh out of the refrigerator.
Homogenization takes place after pasteurization and helps prevent the separation of fats from the liquid within milk, making milk smooth in texture.
What Is the Fortification of Milk?
Fortification is a process by which manufacturers add micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A and vitamin D are the two nutrients that federal regulations mandate for the fortification of milk. Some products are also fortified with as essential minerals or omega-3 fatty acids.
Whole Cow Milk
Whole milk refers to a full-fat product and is typically at least 3.25%, usually 3.5% milk fat.
Whole milk is high in saturated fats and cholesterol but lowers in carbs and sugars
It has a full body and rich taste. Historically whole milk has received a bad rap as people were scared of its high-fat content, but it is lower in carbohydrates than its low or nonfat counterparts are.
Low Fat Cow Milk
Low-fat milk is made by removing part of the milk fat from the final product. This includes 2% and 1% milk, where the percentages indicate how much fat is left in the milk by weight. Low-fat dairy is almost fat-free.
Low-fat cow milk is lower in saturated fat than whole milk
Low-fat milk is lower in calories than whole milk because eliminating the fat removes its calories.
There is no difference in nutrient levels between whole and low-fat milk
Nonfat Cow Milk
In nonfat milk, all the fats have been removed. The taste leaves a lot to be desired as it tastes like very watered down, though no water has been added, it’s just that the fats remove the creamy and rich taste of whole milk or even 2%.
Nonfat milk is lowest in calories than any other type of milk, measuring at only 80 calories per cup and also provides all of milk’s key nutrients.
Virtually fat-free and lower in calories than whole or low-fat milk
Essential Milk Nutrients Found In All Cow Milk Products
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B-6
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D (enriched products only)
Organic/Grass Fed Cow Milk
Organic milk is made by dairy farmers that only use organic fertilizers and pesticides, so their cows are fed organic crops, unlike the traditionally non-organic grain-fed farm animals.
Grass fed cows graze out in the open fields. Both grasses fed and organically raised cows are not subject to hormone or antibiotic injections as traditionally farmed cows are.
Organic milk has as much as 50% more omega-3 fatty acids as conventional milk
One study (Benbrook, et al.) found that organic milk is higher in heart health promoting omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Another study from Newcastle University in England found organic milk to have 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk that boost brain health, heart health, and immunity. Otherwise, traditional and organic milk is are equal in nutritional value, but organic and grass-fed milk wins in taste.
One important consideration with organic milk is that those cows are never treated with growth hormones, such as rbST, which is used to boost production in conventional milk farming. Organic is also environment friendly, allowing for a better earth. Organic milk is also offered in lactose-free varieties.
Goat Milk Benefits
Goat milk is simply milk that comes from a goat instead of a cow. It has a similar nutritional profile top cow milk. The good news is that dairy farm goats are given fewer antibiotics and growth hormones than cows, and so their milk has smaller fat molecules, making it easier to digest.
Goat’s milk is high in saturated fat and cholesterol
Goat milk is also slightly lower in lactose, rich in calcium and tryptophan.
Why Is Camel Milk Good for You?
Camel milk is very popular in the Middle East, Asia, and African cultures. It is 50% lower in saturated fat than cow milk and contains a high amount of healthy probiotics for gut health. It is a rich source of vitamin B1 and calcium and is also a natural source of blood sugar-regulating insulin.
It is slightly higher in calories than regular milk and tastes much the same though it does have its distinct flavor and a slightly salty taste. In the United States, camel milk is produced by Desert Farms and made available for sale to consumers.
Camel milk is high in saturated fat and cholesterol
Is Raw Milk More Nutritious Than Pasteurized Milk?
Raw milk is a product that has not gone through the pasteurization process it, therefore, contains pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast normally removed by pasteurization that can cause serious illness.
Some believe that raw milk offers more health benefits and is easier digested because active enzymes are not destroyed by the pasteurization process. However, experts maintain that this is simply not true, since stomach acids also destroy these enzymes, and they are not required for optimal digestion.
Contrary to some people’s arguments, raw milk is not healthier than pasteurized varieties.
Raw milk cheeses are readily available at supermarkets, and while they are made in line with very strict production guidelines, they are still risky for pregnant women or those with certain chronic disease and weakened immune systems.
Buttermilk is milk that has added bacterial culture that makes it richer and thicker. It may also suit those are lactose intolerant.
It is often used in baking recipes to add moisture, in salad dressings and many simply enjoy drinking it for digestive health.
Applying it topically can reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate sun-damaged skin. Ayurveda considers it to be good for digestion and uses it to prevent diabetes and treat hemorrhoids and insomnia.
Buttermilk can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, help if you have diarrhea or IBS, and prevent yeast infections.
Milk Enriched with DHA – Are They Wort It?
This is a milk that comes from grain-fed cows (conventionally farmed) that’s diet is enriched with DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acids. This results in a naturally higher content of DHA in the finished milk product. DHA supporting the brain, heart health and other benefits.
On the other hand, we can learn the following: Without question, I am avoiding any and all food and products with added DHA and ARA in them. It’s just not worth the risk of negative side effects like hormone disruption, increased infertility risk, and toxic pollutants in the body (both mine and my children’s). (Source).
Calcium Fortified Milk
Calcium-fortified milk is regular milk that has been fortified with calcium, which supports bone health and promotes absorption of vitamin D.
Calcium-fortified milk is regular milk that has been fortified with calcium
What Does It Mean by Filtered Milk?
Filtered milk passes regular milk through numerous fine filters that remove many microorganisms. This process makes it taste extraordinarily creamy and delicious. The best news is that filtered milk has 6 grams less sugar and 5 grams more protein than regular milk.
Lactose-free milk is regular milk that goes through a process, which removes the milk’s natural sugars (lactose) so people who are lactose intolerant can better digest it. Be sure to pick a product that is fortified with calcium.
Choosing Dairy-Free and Lactose-Free Milk Products
Make sure to shake any lactose-free products, as the added calcium carbonate tends to sink to the bottom. Watch out for added sweeteners in lactose-free milk, including refined sugars, honey and others that are often added to improve taste.
Evaporated milk is made through a high-temperature sterilization process that removes approximately 60% of the water from any regular milk resulting in a browning reaction that turns it a darker color. Typically, evaporated milk is used for baking and other recipes.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweetened condensed milk is made by condensing milk to 1/3 of its original volume, and then sugar is added to make a very sweet and thick final product. This type of milk is used in baking and other recipes.
Powdered milk offered a month-long shelf life and offered in whole or low-fat versions.
UHT milk is a sterilized milk product. The sterilization process heat treats regular milk at very high temperatures, 138 to 158°C. The milk is sold in airtight sterilized packaging and once opened must be drunk within three days.
Sweetened and flavored milk, such as banana, strawberry and even chocolate milk is really bad drink choices as they contain artificial additives such as carrageenan; they are loaded with sugar, and they are lower in protein than other milk products.
Flavored milk is very high in added sugars and may have artificial flavorings and additives
One eight-ounce serving of just one popular strawberry milk has 30 grams of sugar. The sugar in flavored milk is not the naturally occurring lactose found in regular milk but is granulated white sugar added during the production process.
Is a Plant-Based Milk Right for You?
Soymilk is a vegan milk product made from soybeans and of all the non-animal milk options is closest in protein content to cow milk and has less sugar and calories.
Soymilk has no cholesterol and is low in saturated fat
Rice milk, while much lower in protein than cow milk offers a good alternative for certain populations. Often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, it is low calories and nutritious. Rice milk is a good source of magnesium, B vitamins, phosphorus, and manganese. It is also free of saturated fat and cholesterol, unlike cow milk. It has a mild flavor.
Rice milk is great for vegans and vegetarians who suffer from soy allergies, those with lactose intolerance and even people suffering from IBS. It offers a good alternative to avoid potential allergy issues that are seen with nut milk.
Rice milk has no cholesterol but is very low in protein
Its main con is that it is loaded with carbs, two times the amount found in cow’s milk, due to it being made from a starchy grain. Just one cup has 10 grams of sugar and 25 grams of carbs.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is grown for industrial uses of products made from it. Many products are made from hemp, including milk.
Hemp milk has no cholesterol, it’s low in saturated fat and has 5 grams of protein per cup
Hemp milk has more protein than other non-animal milk alternatives; at 5 grams of protein per cup, it outranks nut, rice, and coconut milk. It’s also unique because it contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid.
Hemp milk also offers:
- A complete protein with all ten essential amino acids
- 46% of the recommended daily value of calcium
- Lots of folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
Pea milk is a nut-free, soy-free, non-GMO product made from split peas and is a 100% plant-based milk product.
No cholesterol or saturated fat, eight times more protein than nut milk
- No sugar in unsweetened varieties
- Low in calories
- 50% more calcium than cow milk
- Same protein content as cow milk with more than eight times the protein found in nut milk
- 100% vegan
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
While coconut milk has no protein and is comparable in saturated fat content to cow milk, it contains medium-chain fatty acids that may help lower cholesterol, boost blood pressure numbers, and are generally touted for heart health.
- Vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6
- Fortified with calcium and vitamin D
Coconut milk has no cholesterol but is high in saturated fat
The unsweetened varieties will offer you the best results, with fewer calories. Since many products have added sugars, reading labels is crucial to avoid this pitfall.
Unsweetened cashew milk offers vitamin A and calcium, with few carbs, so it’s less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. It is 100% vegan, and lactose-free.
Cashew milk has no cholesterol, no saturated fat and is high in oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that is good for heart health
Its main con is that commercial products tend to be low in protein.
Low in calories and fortified with vitamin D and calcium, almond milk is a good alternative for vegans, and the lactose intolerant, but it lacks the protein content of cow or soymilk.
Unsweetened varieties are low in fat, calories, and sugars so ideal for weight loss with one cup yielding only 30 calories and 3 grams of carbs.
Almond milk is also a great source of the antioxidant vitamin E, and vitamin A that supports healthy immunity. With 30% RDA (recommended daily allowance) of calcium per cup, your bones will thank you for it.
Almond milk has no cholesterol, is low in saturated fat, but has little protein
Hazelnut milk is another non-dairy vegan milk alternative in the nut milk family.
Hazelnut milk has no cholesterol or saturated fat
- Gluten free
- Packed with B vitamins
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid for blood and heart health
- Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy blood pressure
- Has a much nuttier and stronger flavor than other nut milk
As you can see, you have plenty of choices when it comes to milk. It is also obvious that not all milk are created equally, and depending on your health needs, you need to consider each one’s attributes to make the smartest choice for you.
One important consideration is how milk will affect your heart, and if you have high cholesterol, this consideration is even more important. Sugar content is another critical consideration, especially for your waistline and type 2 diabetes concerns.
Alternative milk offer options for vegans, those with allergies, the lactose intolerant, and those who are watching their heart lipid profiles.
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