Everything You Need to Know About Milk

The truth behind cow's milk and why nowadays soy, nut, and coconut alternatives are taking over!

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Benefits and risks of Cow's milk

With all of the options available in the dairy aisle today, cow’s milk still remains one of the most prevalent items in the refrigerator. This is not to say that the other types of milk are not worth buying, but there is always something to be said for cow’s milk and its benefits. In many countries, cow’s milk is the most common, and for good reason (though goat’s milk is ahead, worldwide)! It is believed to have been consumed since around 10,000 BC and has been used for thousands of years to provide good nutrition to keep bodies strong and healthy. While there are controversial topics out there about there being ill effects of dairy in the body, there are also many supported facts that prove that milk in moderation is indeed good for the body.

8 Fun Facts About Cow’s Milk

The next time you drink that glass of milk or have your daily bowl of cereal, think about these fun facts regarding cow’s milk! All but the last of these facts come from Farm Flavor. [1]

  1. “A cow produces an average of 6.3 gallons of milk daily and 350,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime.”
  2. “Cows eat about 100 pounds of food every day and drink 50 gallons of water.”
  3. “To get the amount of calcium in an 8-ounce glass of milk, you’d have to eat one-fourth cup of broccoli, seven oranges or six slices of wheat bread.”
  4. “A cow will produce an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,300 gallons each year!”
  5. “The average American consumes almost 25 gallons of milk a year.”
  6. “Home delivery of milk (i.e. the milkman) started in 1942 as a war conservation measure.”
  7. “Fresh milk will stay fresher [sic] longer if you add a pinch of salt to each quart.”
  8. Glass milk bottles were patented and introduced in the 1880s and eventually replaced filling customer’s containers from a pail.

History/Mythology of Milk

Milk has been popular for a very long time. Some people think that during the agricultural revolution around 10,000 BC people went from being nomadic to settling down in communities; they switched from hunting and gathering to cultivating and agriculture to take care of their daily needs. They think that people started to domesticate animals around this time and harvest milk for themselves. Cow’s milk was not always for “everyone” because in Ancient Egypt milk and dairy products were reserved for the wealthy and royal families. [2]

In the 5th century AD, Europe was milking, and they were later known for their wonderful milks and cheeses made from cow, goat, and sheep milk. As time went on, milk was often cleaner than water, but it was not always clean. When cows were crowded into cities, conditions were unclean and the milk often harbored bacteria which could make people fall ill. It also did not stay fresh very long, which was a problem for those wanting to drink fresh sweet milk. At warm temperatures, milk would soon sour and begin to curdle, which was perfectly edible and the beginning of cheese, but not the same as “fresh” milk.

In 1862, the start of a milk breakthrough occurred, and it ended up changing the course of milk’s distribution history. A French microbiologist by the name of Louis Pasteur was the first person to test and invent what we now know as “pasteurization.” His idea of pasteurization made it possible to distribute milk much beyond the farm fences before it soured. Commercial-grade machines came onto the scene in 1895, and they changed the course of milk distribution forever. This process is now used not only on milk, but also items like juice, canned foods, and milk intended for yogurt and cheese.

Milk has also gone through phases where it was said to be good only for small children; in such times, it has even been considered bad for adults. However, milk can be enjoyed by folks of all ages again.

Milk Nutritional Facts

This topic is a sensitive one for many people, and there are a lot of claims on the web that dairy products are harmful to your health. Science has shown that dairy products are fine for your health when consumed in moderation. Most people already know that one of the largest benefits from drinking milk is bone health. Milk contains calcium, which is vital to keep your bones strong.

Milk is loaded with protein, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D. Other vitamins and minerals present in milk are: Casein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Because there are different variations of cow’s milk (whole, 2 percent, 1 percent, and skim) there are different nutritional benefits to each variation. The more rich the milk, the more calories, vitamins, and minerals it has. It does not seem watered down like skim milk does, but it is also more fattening! Take a look below at the nutritional facts for each type of milk offered to us today, as compiled on Live Strong by Aglaee Jacob. [3]

Whole Milk

“A cup of whole milk, containing 3.25 percent milk fat and enriched with vitamin D, provides 149 calories; 7.9 g fat; 4.6 g saturated fat; 7.7 g protein; 11.7 g carbohydrates; 0 g fiber; 276 mg, or 28 percent DV, calcium; 395 IU, or 8 percent DV, vitamin A; and 124 IU, or 31 percent DV, vitamin D.”

Two Percent

“A 1-cup serving of low-fat milk containing 2 percent milk fat provides 122 calories, 4.8 g fat, 3.1 g saturated fat, 8.1 g protein, 11.7 g carbohydrate and 0 g fiber. It also contains 293 mg, or 29 percent DV, calcium; 464 IU, or 9 percent DV, vitamin A; and 120 IU, or 30 percent DV, vitamin D.”

One Percent

“As for cow’s milk with 1 percent milk fat, a 1-cup serving contains 102 calories; 2.4 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 8.2 g protein; 12.2 g carbohydrates; 0 g fiber; 305 mg ,or 31 percent DV, calcium; 478 IU, or 10 percent DV, vitamin A; and 117 IU, or 29 percent DV, vitamin D.”

Skim Milk

“A 1-cup serving of fat-free or skim milk provides 83 calories; 0.2 g fat; 0.1 g saturated fat; 8.3 g protein; 12.2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 299 mg, or 30 percent DV, calcium; 500 IU, or 10 percent DV, vitamin A; and 115 IU, or 29 percent DV, vitamin D.”

Chocolate Milk

“A cup of low-fat chocolate milk contains 158 calories; 2.5 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 8.1 g protein; 26.1 g carbohydrate; 24.9 g sugar; 1.3 g fiber; 290 mg, or 29 percent DV, calcium; 490 IU, or 10 percent DV, vitamin A; and 108 IU, or 29 percent DV, vitamin D.”

Nonfat Instant Dry Milk

“A cup of nonfat powdered milk provides 243 calories; 0.5 g fat; 0.3 g saturated fat; 23.9 g protein; 35.5 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 837 mg, or 84 percent DV, calcium; 1608 IU, or 32 percent DV, vitamin A; and 299 IU, or 75 percent DV, vitamin D.”

Health Benefits of Milk

Drinking a glass of milk has many benefits to your health (as long as you are not chugging a gallon’s worth)! Because milk is loaded with calcium, it is good for people of all ages. Whether you are a child looking to strengthen your bones for the future or an elderly person wanting to keep away osteoporosis, milk is a great solution! [4] Milk helps enrich your bone mineral density levels.

Believe it or not, the calcium, magnesium, and potassium in milk have been found to reduce blood pressure levels. Another important factor in milk that helps lower blood pressure is casein, which is the main form of protein found in cow’s milk. On the topic of protein, milk contains healthy amounts of protein in each glass, which will help you feel fuller after a meal.

Uses For Milk

This is a loaded section, because milk is used in so many ways! For starters, milk is used to make a variety of yogurts and cheeses that many people love and enjoy daily. Without milk, we would not have the flavor that these foods bring to the world. Yogurt can be used in smoothies, and it can be used to make Greek sauce which pairs well with chicken. And let’s not forget butter, which adds great flavor to so many things!

Milk itself is incorporated into many different foods. Besides having it on your cereal, it is an important ingredient in many baked goods, such as pancakes, muffins, and breads. Milk also imparts creaminess to soups and sauces. Whether you are drinking it straight, enjoying a cup of yogurt, or incorporating it into your daily recipes, you will be reaping the benefits that milk provides.

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Upon receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in college, and competing at a Division 1 level for tennis Lauren has loved writing for many years. She specializes in health and nutritional topics, which has come from the decades of high level education from her competitive tennis days where she worked with nutritionists, strength coaches, and mental coaches full time. After graduation she went onto compete at a professional level for tennis, in which injury sidelined her career. She then jumped straight into the health and wellness space working for a nutritional company, as well as writing for multiple health organizations to date.

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