Many people know dairy foods are an important source of nutrients for growing children and teens. Milk and other dairy foods, however, are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamins for people in all walks of life, including adults, seniors and athletes. Dairy products are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including carbohydrates, protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin.
Lactose is the main carbohydrate (98%) contained in milk and due to the action of acidifying bacteria it is converted to lactic acid, obtaining fermented milk and yoghurt as the end product. In order to be digested it requires lactase, an enzyme that is secreted in the small intestine. If there is a deficit or decrease in the production of this enzyme, the lactose will not be absorbed or digested properly to the extent of producing characteristic diarrhoea, which is the primary sign of lactose intolerance.
In addition, milk contains proteins of high biological value. Such as casein (78% of total protein), from which rennet is obtained, and serum proteins (17% of total protein) from which we obtain curd or fresh cheese. It also contains many enzymes such as lipases (responsible for the rancid taste and smell), proteases (responsible for the curd formation) and alkaline phosphatases (indicator of correct pasteurisation).
Milk plays an important role in maintaining health and preventing chronic diseases. Milk and dairy products are among the products that provide the highest amounts of easily absorbable calcium. As peak bone mass is not reached until the third decade of life, it is especially important for adults to meet the calcium, protein and vitamin D requirements, in order to prevent osteoporosis. Lack of oestrogen in postmenopausal women prevents the absorption and retention of calcium so it is necessary to cover this deficit with food.
What is milk?
Milk is a natural food source for mammals. Animals, including humans, produce milk to feed their young until they are ready for solid food.
As such, milk contains valuable nutrients that help support a growing body, including calcium and protein.
Research about milk is conflicting, however, with different studies claiming milk is either good or bad for the body.
Due to rising concerns about health, lactose intolerance, and animal welfare, plant-based milk, and dairy alternatives are gaining popularity.
Healthiest Milk Options
Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn’t just about the fat content.
Whether you’re looking beyond cow’s milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.