Milk is one of the most widely consumed products in the world. There are many different types of milk available for consumption, including cow’s milk, goat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and soy milk.
Today, cow’s milk is one of the most popular animal milk consumed by humans. The plant-based milks like soy, rice, and almond milk, are a good alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or experience discomfort after consuming animal milk. The plant based products don’t taste like cow’s milk and are often sweetened to increase palatability.
Milk can be consumed in many forms – cheese, yoghurt, creams, ice cream, flavored milk, and as a plain milk. Most milk sold in the market is pasteurized, which means the milk is heated with the purpose of killing potentially harmful micro organism that may lead to disease such as hepatitis and salmonella, and increases the shelf life of the beverage. Pasteurization has little effect on milk’s nutritive value.
Milk is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that are packed with many essential vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of calcium. In fact, an 240ml serving of milk provides about 30% of the daily value of calcium. Calcium helps maintain strong teeth and bones.
In addition to calcium, milk also provides high quality protein, vitamins and other minerals that can promote health and prevent disease. Here are some health benefits of milk.
- Strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis
As a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, milk is essential for healthy bone growth and development. An adequate intake of milk from early childhood can help strengthen bones and thus reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in later life.
Most people should have about three cups of milk or dairy products each day to meet their daily calcium requirements. Teens and older people have the highest calcium requirements so they should get about four cups daily.
- Maintain teeth health
The calcium and phosphorous in milk are also beneficial for the development and maintenance of healthy teeth. They helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.
- Reduce high blood pressure
Several studies have shows that consuming three portions of milk or low-fat dairy products every day, along with five portions of fruit and vegetables, can reduce high blood pressure in both children and adults.
- Lowers diabetes risk
Studies suggest that regular consumption of low fat dairy products such as milk can help to reduce the risk of diabetes. A study of men in 2005 found that those with the highest intake of milk had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Similarly, a study of more than 37,000 middle aged women found a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes with an increased consumption of low fat dairy products. It is thought that this effect may be due to the fact that dairy foods have a low glycemic index, which helps to control blood sugar levels.
- Fight cancer
A number of studies have shown that people who drank two or more glass of milk regularly had a lower risk of developing both colon and breast cancer. Calcium and natural fats in milk known as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) has been suggested as protective components against colon cancer.
- Aids in weight loss
Research has also shown that women who drank low-fat or skim milk lose more weight than those who exclude milk from their daily diet. Although not fully understood, it appears that the use of milk and dairy products can help regulate body fat.
- Relieve stress
Milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12. The protein lactium has a stress-relieving effect by lowering blood pressure, while the potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms caused by feeling tense. Have a glass of low-fat milk in the morning to start your day stress free.
- Promotes healthy skin
Milk provides high amounts of vitamin A and several B-complex vitamins – all nutrients necessary for a healthy skin. Milk also contains lactic acid which is known to aid in removing the dead skin cells, thereby purifying the skin.
Milk and other dairy products are highly nutritious so you should consume them daily as a part of a healthy balanced diet.