Milk: description, properties, benefits

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Joe Dispenza

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The milk it is a complete food, low in calories, with good nutritional and food value, which contains Vitamian A, B and E. Let's find out more. 

> 1. What are the different types of milk

> 2. Nutritional value of milk

> 3. How we rate it


The different types of milk

Milk represents the first food for man and, due to its nutritional characteristics (including those of its derivatives), it is confirmed as one of the fundamental products for human nutrition in all ages.

According to health legislation (EC Regulation 1234/2007), “drinking milk” means the product obtained from the regular, uninterrupted and complete milking of animals in good health and nutrition; the only word "milk" must be understood as milk coming from female cattle.

That of other animals must bear the name of the species to which the animal that supplies it belongs (for example goat milk, buffalo milk, etc.).

In practice, most of the milk that we find on the market is vaccine and homogenized, that is subjected to a process which, by greatly reducing the size of the fat globules, prevents the upward separation of the milk cream (or cream).

there various types of milk which differ from each other in the fat content or in the restoration and conservation process undergone (in the case of heat treatment, the more or less high temperature used).

Based on the amount of fat, we obtain:

  • XNUMX cups milk interoceptive with a content of at least 3,5%;
  • XNUMX cups milk semi-skimmed with fat content from 1,5% to 1,8%;
  • XNUMX cups milk skimmed with a fat content of less than 0,5%.

If, on the other hand, we consider the reorganization process undergone, from a commercial point of view we obtain:

  • suitable for short conservation which has undergone a pasteurization heat treatment at temperatures between 72 ° C and 78 ° C for times between 15 and 20 seconds (with consequent elimination of pathogenic germs and a reduction of the overall bacterial flora). The shelf life of this type of milk is a few days from the date of packaging;
  • milk a medium conservation it undergoes heat treatments at temperatures above 80 ° C. The shelf life is 90 days from the packaging date;
  • milk a long shelf life UHT or “long-life sterilized” which has undergone heat treatments at temperatures of 116 ° C - 120 ° C for 20 minutes; the durability is 180 days from the date of packaging.

There are also special milks specifically aimed at certain types of consumers such as milk delattosato deprived of lactose (milk sugar sometimes not digestible in people with deficiency or absence of specific enzymes to digest it) or milk enriched with proteins, vitamins, fatty acids, fibers etc.


Milk in the macrobiotic diet


Nutritional value of milk

Milk is a food with good nutritional value (thanks to its chemical composition) and good food value (given by its palatability; it is a food appreciated by many people).

THEwater it is the main constituent of milk (about 87% in bovine milk) containing in solution lactose, mineral salts and water-soluble vitamins, in dispersion it contains proteins and phosphates and in emulsion fat and fat-soluble vitamins.

As for the protein content (about 3,5%), among the milk proteins it should be remembered first of all casein which has among its salient characteristics that of coagulating for the action of enzymes of animal or vegetable origin or for bacterial action and for slight acidification.

The fats (about 3,5%) are found dispersed in the form of very small droplets which by surfacing, i.e. by spontaneous separation when the milk is left to rest, or by centrifugation, collect on the surface forming the milk cream (or cream). Triglycerides, which represent 97-98% of the total, determine the physical properties of milk fat and act as solvents for other lipids and for various fat-soluble substances. The milk of ruminants is characterized by an abundance of saturated fatty acids and a reduced proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acid which is the most abundant.

Sugars (about 4,5%) are represented by lactose which gives the milk its characteristic sweet taste but which has a sweetening power equal to half that of sucrose.

The content of fat-soluble vitamins (vit. A and E) is relatively abundant; vitamin D is scarce water-soluble vitamins, contained in milk, we find the B vitamins and low quantities of vitamin C which disappears during pasteurization (thermolabile vitamin).

As for the mineral salts, milk contains a high percentage of calcium chlorides and phosphates while iron and copper are present in moderate quantities and insufficient for the needs of the nursing baby.

It should be remembered that the chemical composition of milk can vary in relation to the breed, the type of diet, the production cycle of the animal and the seasonal period.

During the summer months the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids undergoes a sharp increase compared to the saturated ones and also the vitamin power of vitamin A becomes twice as high as that of the winter period.


How do we rate milk?

In its global assessment we can say that milk:

  • it is a definable food complete, balanced and without excess of components;
  • compared to many other foods, it is economic. If we consider that a liter of milk provides proteins in quantities equivalent to those contained in a hectogram of meat and a percentage of fat corresponding to about 35-40 g of butter, the calculation is easy !;
  • it is not very caloric (it also depends on the amount of fat contained in the milk we choose);
  • the minimal losses of nutritional value consequent to the reclamation treatments are repaid by substantial hygienic benefits and economic.


Milk substitutes (and its derivatives)


Read also:

> Recognize addressing milk allergies in babies

> Formulated milk and formula feeding

> A2 milk and betacasein: let's be clear

> Buttermilk, the recipe


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