The benefits of milk

Published 1:21 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Last week, we learned some healthful benefits and amazing facts about milk. Let’s continue with some more info. 


Did you know that dairy farmers and workers follow several steps to insure the sanitary collection of milk from dairy cows? In fact, human hands never touch milk as it travels from cow to consumer. Once the milk is collected, it’s then pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process by which raw milk is heated to specific temperatures for a set period of time, to kill harmful bacteria. Also, it should be noted that  pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance or allergic reactions. 

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As stated in last week’s article, it is a myth that milk holds no nutritional value. Here are a few more of milk’s healthful benefits. 


Weight control: Did you know milk is great for those trying to lose body fat? That’s right. Having a cup of milk can make you feel full, which can satisfy cravings, so you eat less. Also, milk contains calcium, and calcium is a driving factor of fat metabolism, as it provides small increases in thermogenesis, the body’s core temperature.


Reduced risk of cancer: Milk contains the mineral calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients that may help protect against cancer. Calcium can protect the gut lining to reduce the risk of colon or rectum cancer. Vitamin D could play a role in cell regulation, which could decrease tumor invasiveness and propensity to metastasize. It may help protect against colon cancer, and possibly prostate and breast cancer. However, high vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. 


Proper hydration: Milk may sometimes seem thick and creamy, but it’s actually 87% water, which means it’s great for hydration. In fact, one study found that after drinking milk, volunteers produced less urine (and therefore retained more fluid) than with water or even sports drinks. Therefore, milk was considered to provide superior hydration. 


Heart health: Overall, evidence indicates that milk and milk products are not associated with increased cardiovascular risk, regardless of their fat content. In fact, multiple studies have linked including low-fat and fat-free dairy in the diet to a reduced risk of not only cardiovascular disease, but also type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.


Loaded with nutrition: In addition to protein, calcium, and vitamin D (added during processing), milk is a rich source of other nutrients, including vitamin A (also added during processing), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B12, potassium, and phosphorus.


Great for post-exercise recovery: Within a half hour after working out, the body can absorb its maximum amount of carbohydrates. That makes low-fat chocolate milk the perfect exercise recovery drink. That’s right, in addition to the protein and water content, the sugars from the chocolate and the natural lactose (milk sugar) help rebuild glycogen stores. Glycogen is to you what starch is to a potato. It’s animal sugar, a stored form of glucose, that fuels both the muscles and the brain. 


Helps emotional and mental health: The nutrients in milk help make your brain happy. One study of more than 1,000 adults from Japan found that those who consumed a higher amount of low-fat milk and yogurt were less likely to develop symptoms of depression. Another Norwegian study found that those who took vitamin D, found in milk. were less depressed than those who did not. 


Now, some folks are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the primary sugar found in dairy products. Those who experience lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which helps digest lactose. This can be remedied by either taking a lactase supplement such as Lactaid or using lactose-free milk products. Lactose-free milk is made by adding lactase to regular milk. 


The average American consumes 18 gallons of milk each year, and the average cow produces 90 glasses of milk each day (that’s around 6.3 gallons), or about 200,000 glasses of milk during its lifetime. 


There are approximately 340-350 udder squirts in a gallon of milk, and adding a pinch of salt or baking soda to each carton as soon as it’s opened will keep milk fresh for over a week past its expiration date.  


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David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to 864-494-6215.