Milk is a natural source of mammalian food. Animals, including humans, produce milk to feed their babies. It contains valuable nutrients such as calcium and protein. However, consumption of milk is a hotly debated subject, so you may wonder whether drinking milk provides health benefits.
In This Article
1. Milk is Nutritious Drink
The Milk nutritional profile is impressive. One cup (244 grams) of cow’s milk contains :
- Calories: 146
- Protein: 8 grams
- Fat: 8 grams
- Calcium: 28% of the RDA
- Vitamin D: 24% of the RDA
- Riboflavin (B2): 26% of the RDA
- Vitamin B12: 18% of the RDA
- Potassium: 10% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 22% of the RDA
- Selenium: 13% of the RDA
Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It provides potassium, B12, calcium and vitamin D. Milk is also an outstanding source of vitamin A, magnesium, zinc and thiamine (B1). It is an excellent protein source, and contains hundreds of various fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s . There are many health benefits associated with conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, including a decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease , , .
The nutritional capacity of milk varies, depending on factors such as its fat content and the diet and care of the cow from which they produce . Milk from cows eating mainly grass, for example, produces substantially higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids . Organic and grass-fed cow’s milk often contains higher levels of beneficial antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, which help to minimize inflammation and oxidative stress .
Milk is a high-quality source of vitamins and minerals. It contains a wide range of fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids. Milk’s nutritional quality varies depending on its fat content and the diet of the cow from which it is derived.
2. Milk is Good For Your Bones
Drinking milk can benefit your bones. Because of its strong nutrient content, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and vitamin K2. These nutrients are important for keeping the bones strong and healthy. However, 99% of calcium in your body is stored in your teeth and bones . Milk is an excellent source of nutrients that your body can rely on to absorb calcium properly, including vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus, and magnesium.
By adding milk and dairy products to your diet, you can prevent the risks of bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Studies have associated milk with a lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially in older adults , , . Also, milk is a substantial source of protein, a crucial nutrient for bone health. Protein accounts for about 50% of bone thickness, and about one-third of bone mass . Eating more protein can protect against bone loss, particularly in women who do not have enough calcium in their diets .
Milk is a rich source of nutrients on which your body can rely to absorb calcium. Your teeth and bones contain 99% of the calcium in your body. Milk is also high in protein, which accounts for roughly half of bone thickness and one-third of bone mass.
3. Milk is a Protein Rich Source
Milk is rich in protein. A single cup of milk contains eight grams of protein. Your body needs protein for many vital functions, including growth, cells repair, and regulation of the immune system . Milk is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the amino acids required for proper functioning of your body . There are two dominant protein types present in milk, such as casein and whey protein. They are top quality proteins. Casein forms the bulk of the protein found in cow’s milk, accounting for 70–80% of the total protein content. Whey represents roughly 20% of all proteins .
Whey protein contains branched-chained amino acids, such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Branched-chain amino acids can be helpful in muscle growth, preventing lean muscle loss and providing energy during exercise , . Drinking milk can also lower risk of age-related muscle loss . However, several studies have shown that after a workout, drinking milk can encourage muscle recovery, increase strength, and even minimize muscle soreness , , .
A single cup of milk contains eight grams of protein. Milk contains all nine amino acids needed for your body to function properly. Drinking milk can reduce the risk of age-related muscle loss and improve athletes’ post-workout recovery. It may also encourage older adults to engage in more physical activity.
4. Decreases Risk of Obesity
Several studies have shown milk consumption with a decreased risk of obesity. Ironically, only whole milk has been correlated with that value. A study in children aged three showed that increased intake of milk was associated with a lower risk of childhood obesity . Another research in middle-aged and elderly women found that eating more high-fat dairy products was associated with lower weight gain and a lower risk of obesity .
Milk contains several elements that may lead to weight gain prevention. The high-protein foods, for example, allow you to feel full for a longer time, which can avoid overeating . In addition, the conjugated linoleic acid in milk can facilitate fat breakdown and inhibiting the fat storage in the body . Studies have shown that high dietary calcium levels promote the breakdown of fat and prevent fat absorption in the body , .
Milk contains several components that may aid in the prevention of weight gain. High-protein foods, such as milk, will help you feel fuller for a longer period, which will help you avoid overeating. Calcium-rich diets have been linked to a lower risk of obesity in many studies.
5. Milk is Easy to Add to Your Diet
Milk is a nutritious drink with a wide range of health benefits. It’s a flexible ingredient which you can easily add to your diet. Try to integrate milk into your smoothies, oatmeal, and coffee. There are other dairy foods that have similar nutrient profiles if you’re not a fan of milk. Unsweetened yogurt made from milk, for example, contains the same amount of protein, calcium and phosphorus. Yogurt is an alternative to processed dips and toppings, which are very healthy.
Milk is a nutrient dense and easy to add to your diet. Add milk into your smoothies, oatmeal, and coffee to reap the health benefits. If you don’t like to drink milk, there are other dairy foods with similar nutrient profiles.
Concerns and Precautions
Many people can not drink milk, since they can not digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy and milk products. Ironically, lactose intolerance affects around 65% of the world’s population , . Some prefer not to drink milk or dairy products because of dietary restrictions, environmental issues, or ethical reasons. This has contributed to a wide range of alternatives to nondairy milk, such as almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, hemp milk, oat milk, and rice milk.
When choosing a substitute for milk, remember many of these products contain added ingredients such as sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives, and thickeners. By contrasting reasons, selecting a product with fewer ingredients is a smart idea. Read the labels and find out which one’s fit your needs best. Stick to unsweetened varieties as far as possible to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet.
Some people avoid drinking milk or dairy products because of dietary restrictions, environmental concerns, or ethical concerns. Substitutes include almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, hemp milk, oat milk, and rice milk.
Milk is rich in vital nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium and vitamin D. It’s also an excellent protein source. Therefore, drinking milk and dairy products can prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures and may even help you keep your weight healthy. However, many people cannot digest lactose or want to avoid milk. Consuming high-quality milk and dairy products can offer several health benefits for those able to tolerate it.