World Milk Day 2020: Eight types of milk and the amazing benefits you can get from them
Traditionally consumed because of its famed benefits for bone health, milk is actually packed with many more nutrients than just calcium.
Whether you have it simply as it is, in chai, with turmeric or pour it over your nutritious breakfast cereal - milk is an integral part of our lives. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations observes June 1 every year as World Milk Day to recognize the importance of milk as a global food and to promote its benefits.
Traditionally consumed because of its famed benefits for bone health, milk is actually packed with many more nutrients than just calcium. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition in 2014, despite all the controversies regarding drinking milk, most epidemiological studies confirm that milk plays a nutritious role in health promotion and the prevention of chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, some forms of cancer, obesity and diabetes.
There are many types of milk available in the market, and all of them have their fair share of benefits. The following are the main varieties of animal milk and the benefits you can gain by consuming them:
Cow milk: Lactose malabsorption and allergies, especially in children, has led to the idea that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given to children. But as a study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2017 shows, cow milk has a higher protein content than non-dairy milk and also naturally consists of considerable amounts of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and minerals like phosphorus and magnesium. Cow milk also has casein, whey and many antioxidants.
Buffalo milk: A study published in Lipids in Health and Disease in 2017 reveals that buffalo milk - which makes for 12% of the total milk production in the world - is even healthier than cow milk because it has a lower concentration of cholesterol. Buffalo milk also has a higher concentration of amino acids, selenium and zinc, and antioxidants.
Goat milk: In many cultures, goat milk is a great substitute for cow milk, especially in infant formula. According to a 2019 study in Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, goat milk has a higher digestibility, is more alkaline, less fatty, and has higher tolerability than cow milk due to higher casein content. Goat milk clearly has a high therapeutic value in human nutrition too.
Camel milk: Did you know that camel milk, though different from other types of dairy, is actually nutritionally the closest to a human mother’s breast milk? A study published in Electronic Physician in 2015 explains how camel milk is low in glucose and cholesterol, yet high in vitamin C and minerals like iron, potassium, copper, zinc and magnesium.
Over the years, non-dairy milk varieties have also gained immense popularity all over the world due to their nutritional benefits, and especially since they are plant-based sources of milk. The following are four of the most popular types of plant-based milk:
Soy milk: Made with soybeans or soy protein isolate, soy milk is considered to be the best substitute for cow milk because of its nutritional value. It contains the same protein, fat and carbohydrate levels as cow milk, and is even considered to be a 'complete protein' - which means it contains all essential amino acids.
Coconut milk: Coconut milk is made with water and the white flesh of coconuts. It’s of lower nutritional value than all non-dairy milk varieties, but is used extensively in the Indian subcontinent, and is known to improve blood cholesterol levels and aid weight loss.
Almond milk: This milk variety is preferred by the health-conscious for its high protein, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant properties just as much as for the low number of calories it packs. However, almond milk has been recently courting controversy due to the effect almond farming has on bee populations.
Oat milk: Made with oats, water and a few other ingredients, oat milk has lesser amounts of protein and fat compared to cow milk. Yet, this type of milk is known to control cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels, making it a healthy option for many.
For more information, read our article on Benefits of Milk.
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