Milk is the only food item that works as a standalone meal in childhood and a nutritious, leisurely beverage in adulthood. Be it lattes, tea or a tall glass, life is just not the same without a splash of pristine goodness.

These days selecting edibles is mind-boggling; every item seems to have at least 5 variants, including milk. You are expected to choose between full cream, single-toned, double-toned, skimmed milk, soy milk, flavored milk and what not!

This article will arm you with enough information to counter any milk-related dilemma at the store.

For starters, let’s take a look at nutritional content of milk:

  1. Fat: Fat is essential for many functions in the body including but not limited to storage and provision of energy, production of hormones, protection, warmth and provision of fat soluble vitamins.
  2. Carbohydrates: They provide the body with energy required for most functions. The form of carbohydrate present in milk is called lactose.
  3. Protein: They have an active role in building immunity by creating antibodies, and conducting bodily processes, which culminate in building and repair of all tissues. It helps strengthen muscles and bones.
  4. Vitamin A: Strengthens eye muscles and vision, helps in tooth and bone development and maintaining healthy skin. It keeps deficiency diseases like night blindness at bay.
  5. Vitamin B12: Helps in the normal functioning of brain and nervous system, formation of red blood cells. Also helps in maintaining a healthy heart, curing sleeping disorders, diabetes and mental disorders.
  6. Vitamin B6: Contributes in the formation of red blood cells, metabolism of carbohydrates, healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system, and liver detoxification.
  7. Riboflavin (B2): Helps in iron absorption thereby keeping anemia at bay. Also helps in recycling body’s own antioxidants, which eliminate free radicals from the body.Learn to know more about antioxidant rich foods.
  8. Niacin (B3): Maintains heart health, lowers bad cholesterol; also helps keep the nervous system, digestive system, skin, hair and eyes healthy.
  9. Thiamine (B1): Helps in maintaining digestive health.
  10. Vitamin K: It helps in clotting of blood.
  11. Pantothenic acid (B5): Strengthens bones and joints, helps in maintaining heart health. Also helps in smooth brain function by helping in the production of neurotransmitters.
  12. Folate: Prevents anaemia and helps in development of a healthy foetus.
  13. Vitamin D: Improves absorption of calcium by the body. It regulates minerals like calcium and phosphorous in the body and prevents autoimmune diseases. Also helps in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart health.
  14. Calcium: Helps in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.
  15. Magnesium: It aids in bone and teeth health, conversion of food into energy and tissue formation.
  16. Phosphorus: Strengthens bones and keeps teeth healthy. It improves kidney health as well.
  17. Potassium: Aids in maintenance of proper blood pressure and ensures a healthy heart.
  18. Zinc: Helps in building immunity in the body, growth and repair of cells, wound healing, metabolism of carbohydrates.
  19. Selenium: It helps in normal functioning of the thyroid gland, also factors in the correct functioning of the immune system, due to its antioxidant effect.
  20. Choline: It is an important nutrient, which helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

Now that you are aware of all the nutrients and minerals that milk has to offer, it’d really help to be able to tell one type of milk from another.

  • Full cream milk: Full cream milk, also called whole milk is usually given to children, teenagers and body builders. This milk is called so because it contains all the milk fat without adding or removing anything. It is collected from the dairy herd and it undergoes various processing techniques like pasteurization to kill potentially harmful bacteria before it reaches the general public. One glass would generally contain 3.5% milk fat, which provides about 150 calories. Full cream milk is also creamier and full of flavour. This further can be divided into two parts:
  • Whole standardized milk: In this milk the fat is contained to a minimum of 3.5%.
  • Whole homogenized milk: Fat globules are broken down and made to spread throughout the milk to prevent formation of the creamy layer at the top.
  • Single toned milk: Adding skimmed milk powder and water to whole milk makes single toned milk. It has about 3% fat and minimizes body’s absorption of cholesterol from the milk. It contains almost the same nutrition as whole milk except the fat-soluble vitamins. One glass of toned milk provides around 120 calories.
  • Double toned milk: This milk is obtained by adding skimmed milk powder to whole milk and has about 1.5% fat content. Double toned milk is ideal for those trying to maintain weight as it keeps the calorie intake under control and also helps in weight loss.
  • Skimmed milk: Skimmed milk has 0.3% to 0.1% fat content. Though skimmed milk contains all the nutrients found in whole milk like the vitamins and minerals, it gives you just half the calories of full cream milk (around 80 calories per glass of milk). It contains slightly more calcium than whole milk and even lower levels of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin A, as this is lost when the fat is removed.

Although when the fat is being removed all the fat-soluble vitamins also get removed but in most cases these vitamins are re-added to the milk to ensure they do not lose out on their nutrients.

The low level of fat in skimmed milk reduces its calorie content, which reduces the energy it provides to the person having it. For exactly this reason it is not appropriate for children under the age of 5 years to have skimmed milk as they need the extra energy for growth and development. It is ideal for adults who wish to limit their fat or calorie intake.

Skimmed milk has a slightly more watery appearance than other types of milk and has a less creamy taste due to the removal of fat.

The calorie and nutrition breakdown of the different types of milk* is given below:

*The reference milk taken here is Mother Dairy.*Water-soluble nutrients: Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Calcium, Phosphate, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc*Fat-soluble nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin K

Health benefits of milk:

  1. Milk is rich in calcium and helps in maintaining bone density.
  2. Milk is important for nerve function, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.
  3. Milk contains sufficient amount of potassium needed for muscle activity and contractions. It helps in regulating the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure.
  4. Sodium present in milk helps in stimulating the adrenal glands and aids in preventing heat prostration or sunstroke.
  5. Milk contains vitamin A, important for regulating cell growth and integrity of the immune system and helps maintaining normal vision and skin.
  6. Milk helps in brain development and growth of body tissues. It helps to maintain healthy bones and ensure that you’re not losing bone density.
  7. It also helps prevent the risk of colorectal cancer.
  8. It helps in fighting depression.
  9. It helps in development and maintenance of healthy teeth.
  10. It helps in fighting obesity.
  11. It reduces the risk of getting diabetes.Read to know more about wonder foods for diabetes.
  12. Provides a boost of energy.
  13. Keeps the body well hydrated.Get to know benefits of drinking water.

Now that you know the benefits of milk inside and out, do remember to make it a part of your steady diet.