Milk, in its various forms, has been a part of human nutrition since ancient times and it also consists of a fairly long, rich history.
The ‘agriculture revolution’ around 10,000 BC changed the entire dynamics of ancient societies, during which nomadic tribes transformed into well-settled farming communities. This incredible revolution was followed by the development of domesticated animals. Furthermore, the need of people to use the animals’ by-products like milk, meat, etc, also increased.
Soon after that, milk and other dairy products became a prized commodity that was initially reserved for the royalty, the wealthy, and the priests. During those times, the most popular varieties of milk came from cows, sheep, and goats. However, as time progressed, numerous other types of milk were discovered and produced.
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There is a variety of different types of milk, some of which are incredibly popular while others are not as well-known. For all those who aren’t aware of the different types of milk other than their regular, everyday milk, below is a list of different milk varieties, each with their unique characteristics and health benefits.
This is also known as ‘regular’ milk that consists of about 3.5% of fat content. The fat percentage typically ranges somewhere between 3.25% and 3.5%. The primary reason why it is called ‘whole’ milk is it is comparatively purer than most other types of milk, and also because of its fat content.
Whole milk is considered to be very thick, creamy, and rich, and pairs perfectly with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast in the morning. In the words of the Dairy Council of California, the whole is milk is basically “the way it comes from the cow before processing.”Although it is pasteurized and probably even homogenized, the ratio of fat to milk in whole milk is the same as raw milk.
In terms of calories, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk will contain around 150 calories, along with an average amount of 8 grams of fat.
This milk is also referred to as “reduced fat” which basically refers to the fact that the fat content in this milk is actually 2 percent of the total weight of the milk. It is not as thick as whole milk and consists of a mild flavor that is not too strong. It is believed to be an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and other beneficial nutrients.
2% milk or reduced-fat milk goes through an important fat-removal process in which extra fat is removed from the milk. Many people prefer using this milk in their tea because it provides a very smooth texture to the beverage and offers that delicious, rich-milk taste. Not only that but it also adds about 8 grams of protein per cup of tea which makes it an ideal type of milk to consume on a daily basis.
Low-fat milk is often confused with reduced-fat milk; however, they are actually different from one another. While the latter consists of 2% fat percentage, low-fat milk has only one percent of fat content. Due to its incredibly less fat percentage, this type of milk is ideal for weight watchers. This is also because consuming low-fat milk means you are having less saturated fat which further helps keep cholesterol levels under control.
Often, you will find low fat milk with skim milk powder added to it which boosts its protein and calcium content and also makes it creamier than before.
Low-fat milk undergoes a process called “centrifugation” which refers to the removal of the creamy fat layer that typically comes with unprocessed milk. This removal of cream and fat globules results in thinner milk with a white opaque shade. This milk is used in a variety of drinks and food dishes like cakes, puddings, desserts, and many low-calorie milkshakes.
Organic milk comes from those cows that aren’t given supplemental hormones and it is produced by those dairy farmers who use only organic pesticides and fertilizers. This milk has three key characteristics that distinguish them from other types of milk. Firstly, it comes from cows that get 30 percent of their diet from pasture, secondly, these cows aren’t given any kind of antibiotics and lastly, they aren’t fed any reproduction or growth hormones.
The term ‘organic’ primarily refers to the different processes that make the milk organic rather than the final milk product. The nutritional profile of this milk is almost the same as the standard milk so there is no significant difference in terms of the nutrients and health benefits provided by organic milk.
Skimmed milk is also known as ‘fat-free milk’ and is quite a popular choice of milk among weight watchers and health-conscious people. The sole reason for that is obviously because skimmed milk contains zero amount of fat. The lack of fat makes this milk way thinner as compared to other types of milk.
As the name suggests, this milk goes through the process of “skimming” which refers to the removal of cream from the milk. This makes it taste very watery which is often compensated by adding milk powders or additives to enhance the taste. However, it is an excellent option for people trying to lose weight and opting for a healthier diet.
This is best known as ‘unpasteurized’ milk or one that hasn’t been homogenized. This means that raw milk is not heated by dairy farmers to decontaminate it for safe drinking. It comes from a variety of different animals including buffalos, sheep, camel, cows, and goats.
The fact that raw milk is not pasteurized raises several health concerns primarily because it may contain harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses that can adversely affect your health. However, advocates of raw milk argue that it is a ‘complete’ type of milk that is void of any harmful additives or preservatives and is in fact, natural food with all its amino acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins completely intact. They also say that the heating process simply kills the basic nutritional purpose of the milk which makes raw milk whole and healthy.
Lactose-free milk, as the name implies, is one that has lactose removed from it, making it a great option for all those people who are lactose-intolerant. Lactose is a type of natural sugar present in milk that many people are unable to digest to an extent that even a single glass can trigger digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting.
Lactose-free milk is produced by food manufacturers by adding lactase to regular milk. Lactase is basically an enzyme that helps break down lactose in the body. However, this doesn’t affect the milk’s taste, nutritional profile, or texture in any way and it still tastes like regular cow milk.
Just like normal milk, lactose-free milk contains all the important micronutrients like phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin B12. It is also a great source of protein and contains about 8 grams of protein in a single 240-ml cup.
This is a highly popular type of milk, especially among kids and toddlers. It is described as a sweetened dairy drink that typically consists of milk, sugar, and natural or artificial food colorings. The most popularly consumed flavored milk is chocolate milk, however, there are several other varieties including strawberry milk, banana milk, and many others.
Like any other kind of milk, flavored milk is rich in the essential nutrients required by the body to stay healthy, namely, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. Research and studies have shown that children who drink flavored milk actually consume more milk overall which results in healthier diets.
This milk is exceptionally famous in Western and South Australia and according to an article published in Sunday Times back in 2013, Western Australia was reported to be the “flavored milk capital of Australia”.
Flavored milk also consists of a longer shelf life as compared to plain milk due to the fact that it is usually pasteurized using Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) treatment.
Full cream milk is one with the highest percentage of fat in it which gives it the creamiest taste and texture, compared to other types of milk that have a lower fat percentage. The term ‘full cream milk’ is also used for milk that has the same fat content as whole milk, a characteristic that makes both the types of milk very similar.
Full cream milk comes from the mammary glands of most mammals which makes it a highly nutritious food for all people, especially children. A 100-ml glass of this milk contains about 3.3 grams of protein, 4.7 grams carbohydrates, and 3.9 grams of fat. Together they round up to approximately 66.9 kcal which makes full cream milk a great choice for those who are counting their calories and trying to follow a healthy diet.
This milk is also an excellent choice for making coffees since its creaminess tends to results in a super silky frothiness and an incredibly rich taste.
This milk is simply prepared by soaking dried soybeans and thoroughly grinding them in water. Soy milk is a variety of plant-based milk that is packed with all the essential nutrients. It consists of an abundance of calcium and soy proteins and is highly popular among vegans and vegetarians.
Soy milk is often referred to like a sweeter and thicker version of almond milk and is considered to be an excellent dairy alternative. Since its main ingredient comes from plants, this milk is naturally cholesterol-free, contains no amount of lactose and is also very low in its saturated fat content. It is also ‘complete protein milk’ which means that it consists of the same protein content as whole milk.
A study was conducted to compare the nutritional profile of coconut, almond, soy, and rice milk. Soy milk was found to contain the largest amounts of essential nutrients which led to the conclusion that it is the second most nutritious type of milk after cow milk.
Almond milk is another very popular type of plant-based milk that consists of subtle natural sweetness and offers an incredibly creamy consistency. It is a dairy free milk product that is produced by first, toasting the almonds and then grinding them with water until it combines into a well-blended mixture. The resulting product is rich milk that has a delicious nutty taste coupled with a thick, creamy texture.
Since it is nut-based milk, it has an abundance of healthy fats, namely polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. It is also rich in other key nutrients like magnesium, potassium, calcium, protein, fiber, and vitamin E.
Almond milk is ideal for those who are lactose-intolerant and wish to avoid dairy products because it is free from cholesterol as well as lactose. Not just that but it also has a low sodium content that is great for maintaining a healthy heart. Moreover, it is the lowest calorie option with only 30 calories in an average cup of almond milk with 0 grams of carbs and sugar.
This is one of the most hypoallergenic options among all other milk types and also the sweetest of all. It is a type of dairy-free milk that is created by boiling brown rice and then mixing it with brown rice starch and brown rice syrup.
Rice milk offers a medium-rich sweet taste that is very pleasant to the taste buds. The natural sweetness of the milk comes from the rice grain itself rather from any added sugar. Since it is lactose-free and contains a very low amount of allergens, it is ideal for lactose-intolerant people and those who may have a great tendency to be allergic to milk.
This milk is also fat and cholesterol-free which makes it the perfect milk choice for people battling with high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues. However, the downside to rice milk is that it contains a very less amount of protein and calcium as compared to whole milk. Per serving of rice milk contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates which also makes it high in calories and sugars.
Buttermilk is often met with great confusion since many people used to, or still believe that it is a kind of high-fat, buttery milk. However, in reality, it is just a fermented milk product that was originally produced from the residual liquid that is left behind from churned butter that comes from cultured or fermented cream.
The modern or current form of buttermilk has no traces of butter in it, rather it is cultured milk that is stored and sold in bottles. Commercially made buttermilk in today’s time is produced by adding bacteria culture to sweet, pasteurized milk. The mixture is left to ferment for a few hours after which stabilizers, salts, and sugar are added to the ‘buttermilk’.
The new buttermilk is a lot thicker, acidic, and Tangier as compared to the traditional buttermilk, making it ideal to be used in buttermilk biscuits and pancakes. It is equally good to enjoy as a drink since buttermilk significantly aids in digestion and also improves gut health.
This milk is also known as ‘diafiltered milk’ and is typically produced by running the milk through a thin, porous membrane that allows the contents of the milk to be separated. This process has been derived from the same technique that removes impurities from water. The act of filtration allows the final product to have more calcium and protein and less sugar content and lactose.
Additionally, ultrafiltration allows water and small lactose molecules to pass through the membrane while proteins get left behind. One cup of ultrafiltered milk is believed to contain 6 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, and 370 milligrams of calcium.
The texture of this milk is said to be creamier than regular milk. Moreover, it contains less sugar than traditional flavored milk.
This milk is often referred to as ‘unsweetened condensed milk’ in quite a few countries and is basically canned milk with about 60 percent of the water content removed from it. The water is removed from fresh milk by simmering it over low heat. The milk then goes through a homogenization process that allows it to integrate all its fat molecules together which gives it extended shelf life.
The process of slowly simmering the milk over heat results in a very thick, rich, and creamy final product that often consist of a mild, caramel-like flavor. Many people refer to evaporated milk as ‘the best of both worlds’ since it contains a very low-fat content and yet retains its creaminess. This makes it a very popular substitute for cream in the dishes that require a good amount of cream as one of its main ingredients.
This is quite similar to evaporated milk considering how the water from cow’s milk is removed to produce sweetened condensed milk. The water-removing process leaves behind a liquid that is very dense and creamy.
Although it is a type of milk, it is actually very different from regular varieties in terms of taste, texture, and consistency. It tastes incredibly sweet, has a darker color and thick and creamy texture and consistency.
Another difference between evaporated and sweetened condensed milk is that the latter has sugar added to it as a preservative in order to increase its shelf life. While it contains some proportion of naturally-occurring sugars of the milk, more sugar is added during the processing. However, since sweetened condensed milk is made from cow’s milk, after all, it does have some protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and fat content.
Due to its ultra sweet taste and super-rich consistency, this milk is usually added to sweet dishes and beverages rather than drinking on its own.
Oat milk is the ultimate blend of water and steel-cut, rolled or whole oats. The mixture is carefully strained to leave behind delicious, plant-based milk. The straining process results in slightly thin milk, making it a great option for coffee and pancakes.
Oats contain a large number of beta-glucans and soluble fiber which makes oat milk an excellent drink for your immune system and metabolism. It consists of a super mild flavor with subtle hints of sweetness along with a watery consistency.
Oat milk is great for all those people who have specific dietary restrictions because it is not only vegan, and lactose-free, but it is also soy and nut-free. The presence of beta-glucans makes the milk really good for your cardiovascular health and allows your cholesterol levels to be in control. It is equally rich in calcium and vitamin D, making it highly beneficial for strong, healthy bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis.
Many people find it hard to digest cow milk which has high lactose content and also consists of a large number of allergens. Goat milk, which is produced by goats, is an excellent nutrient-rich alternative for such people
Goat milk is loaded with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and is rich in medium-chain fatty acids. It is easily digestible, easy on the gut and also less inflammatory, compared to cow milk.
One of the most important benefits of goat milk is that it has therapeutic benefits for heart health where its fatty acids help lower cholesterol levels in the body and may even help treat conditions like coronary heart disease.
For anyone looking for a healthier alternative to cow milk, hemp milk is an ideal option. It is excellent vegan-based milk that is produced by crushing and soaking hemp seeds in water. The mixture is then thoroughly blended, resulting in delicious hemp milk that has a rich, creamy consistency along with an earthy, nutty flavor.
The consumption of hemp milk has always been associated with a lot of controversial statements, considering how the hemp plant is also used to produce marijuana. However, hemp seeds do not contain any THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) so there is no way that hemp milk can produce mind-altering effects.
On the contrary, hemp milk is an excellent source of calcium, iron, protein, potassium, manganese, vitamins, and zinc. All these essential nutrients and components allow hemp milk to deliver a plethora of health benefits including improved cognition, enhanced heart health, excellent skin, improved bone density, and a strong immune system, to name a few.
Coconut milk is one of those milk varieties that have gained significant popularity in recent times. It is a tastier alternative to cow milk with an incredibly thick and creamy texture.
Coconut milk is taken from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts and is completely different from coconut water. It is produced by mixing coconut flesh water so basically, coconut milk consists of 50 percent water content.
This milk occurs in two main categories based on its consistency, which are thick and thin.
Thick coconut milk is prepared by simmering or boiling finely grated solid coconut flesh in water after which the mixture is strained through a cheesecloth, resulting in fine and thick coconut milk. On the other hand, thin coconut milk is made from grated coconut flesh that remains behind in the cheesecloth after preparing thick coconut milk. It is simmered or boiled the same way till you get a thin, water-like consistency.
Coconut milk is packed with several essential nutrients including calcium, fiber, vitamins, copper, potassium, selenium, and manganese. Some of the most popular benefits of coconut milk include weight loss, improved heart health, and enhanced immune system.
This is one of the most popularly-consumed types of milk that comes from the mammary glands of cows. In many parts of the world, cow milk is the primary form of animal milk consumed by most people. The main reason behind its popularity is its incredibly rich nutritional profile and a multitude of health benefits.
Cow milk is really rich in protein which means it consists of all the essential amino acids required by the body to manufacture proteins. It is loaded with vitamin B12 – a vitamin that is vital for healthy brain function as well as for a strong nervous system. The high content of calcium in cow milk makes it exceptionally beneficial for maintaining strong bones, muscles, and teeth.
On the downside though, it is high in saturated fat content and also contains high lactose which means it is not meant for lactose-intolerant people.
Buffalo milk is possibly the least popular variety or type of milk due to its extremely high-fat content and the overload of calories. However, it does contain a fair share of health benefits and essential nutrients that help the body in numerous ways.
This milk comes from the mammary gland of a buffalo and is also a key component of a healthy diet in various parts of the world including India and other regions of Asia. Some of its vital benefits include lowered blood pressure, strong bones, stimulated circulation in the body, and increased protection of the heart from possible adverse conditions and ailments.
Buffalo milk consists of large amounts of iron, calcium, phosphorus, protein, and vitamin A, which boost your immune system, stimulate growth and development in the body, improve circulation and also regulate the blood pressure.
Now that you are aware of so many different types of milk, it is time to stock your refrigerator with your most favorite pick because, if anything, milk paves the way towards a healthy body and a super strong immune system.