Which is healthier: skim, low fat or full-fat milk?
Milk, one of the very few natural food sources that can be consumed without much effort, paradoxically comes with an abundance of nutrients that we need and sometimes don’t, including calories. Calorie-counting diet goers would at times stay away from consumption of milk or dairy products altogether, but let’s not forget – there are many different types of milk that come in many different variations. If dairy milk is the only one that crosses your mind right now, you could be just wrong, because you have forgotten soy milk, almond milk and many other forms of natural milk that are commercially sold everywhere and easy to get.
Variations aside, let’s go back to the basic dairy milk and see what exactly it contains, before we jump to conclusions.
Everyone knows dairy milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals, which contains valuable nutrients intended for cell growth. Generally, milk or any products made from milk could offer a wide range of health benefits, which we shall see as we dwell further below.
From the day we found the many ways to pasteurise and recombine milk, we have been consuming dairy milk in healthier and healthier forms. Take for instance, the three basic and most common forms of dairy milk sold in the market right now.
|Skimmed Milk||Low Fat Milk||Full Cream Milk|
|Nutrients Composition (Standard Estimation)||Calories : 90kcal
Carbohydrate : 15g
Protein : 8g
Fat : 0g
|Calories : 125kcal
Carbohydrate : 12g
Protein : 8g
Fat : 5g
|Calories : 150kcal
Carbohydrate : 10g
Protein : 8g
Fat : 9g
|Fat Content||Lowest fat and saturated fat milk option||Lower calorie and fat content as compared to full cream.||Highest fat and saturated fat milk option|
|Choices (Depends on your health goal)||Suitable for adult population, especially overweight and obese are recommended due to its low calorie and fat content.||Suitable for adult population||Suitable for children, as full cream milk is a good source of healthy fats and rich calorie for growing toddler and children.|
|Vital minerals and vitamins||Similar content||Similar content||Similar content|
|Studies||A study published in 2009 American Society for Nutrition showed that consumption of skim milk, in comparison with a fruit drink, lead to decreased energy intake at subsequent meal.||A study published in the 2011 Journal of Nutrition examined 82,000 postmenopausal women, showed that a diet high in low-fat dairy products is associated with lower diabetes risk in postmenopausal women, particularly those who are obese.||A 15-year study involving more than 3,000 adults found full-fat dairy can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 46% on average. The findings were published in the medical journal Circulation in 2017.|
From the above, one could observe that, essentially, milk is beyond just a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. In its different forms found in the market today, we may choose the type and composition of milk depending on our needs, be it for adults or children. Full cream milk, for instance, will be something diet-goers will avoid at all cost, but it serves to be the best for growing children. Indeed, the choice of milk depends on your health goals and needs, and perhaps age and gender too.
Just as any other food, however, moderation is the key to drinking any kind of milk. Just because full cream milk is good for children, it doesn’t mean you should give your child only full cream milk at all times, as this, in the long run, could lead to obesity. And for diet-goers, if skimmed milk or low fat milk still don’t work for you, there are also other milk options available, including soy milk, almond milk, goat milk, rice milk, grains milk and so on.
So why, despite all that hoo-ha about calorie and fat, do our mothers always encourage us to drink milk so much?
Milk generally helps to maintain healthy teeth, as milk protects the enamel surface against acidic substances from other foodstuffs. It’s also an important source of Calcium and Vitamin D, which are essential for building and maintaining bone health. In fact, adequate Vitamin D levels support the production of serotonin, a hormone associated with mood, appetite and sleep. Not forgetting, Vitamin D also has been said to play a role in cell growth regulation and protection against cancer.
Milk, as we all know, is a rich source of high-quality protein, which supports muscle growth and repair. This is why even the protein shakes consumed by gym enthusiasts contain whey protein which are extracted from milk or egg. Other than protein, milk is also known to be a good source of potassium, which helps to enhance vasodilation and reduce blood pressure, besides improving general heart health.
Next time when you are hungry and thirsty at the same time, consider milk as your first choice of drink. Milk contains a good quantity of water molecules and is considered the best fluid for rehydration, besides feeding you with the protein and energy your stomach is looking for.
Last but not least, besides being rich in nutrients itself, milk also helps our body to improve the intake of vital nutrients such as vitamins and minerals from other foodstuffs.
Our parents were not kidding when they said “You are what you eat”. Milk, as the beginning of this article pointed out, is so rich in nutrients that, it can on its own nurture health and growth. Pick the right choice of milk that fits your diet and physical needs; and you are on the way to a healthier and balanced life.