8 Health Benefits of Milk + 3 Potential Risks
Milk is an essential part of any healthy diet. We rely on it as a major source of a few crucial minerals like calcium. So, in this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about milk benefits. We’ll also cover how you can incorporate it into other recipes.
We all know that milk can help you develop strong bones. Although, few people know that milk has many other benefits.
Plus, having a glass of plain milk on a daily basis can get a little boring. So, we’ll show you a couple of recipes that are exciting and good for you.
Interesting Facts about Milk
When we think of milk, we imagine a white liquid with a creamy texture and a slightly sweet aftertaste.
Yet, milk is much more than that. In fact, we as humans can’t survive without the liquid. As soon as we’re born, our chief source of nutrition is breast milk.
We rely on it as our primary source of minerals and nutrients for the first few years of our lives. Plus, breast milk contains many antibodies that we need for healthy development.
Then, as we grow older, we start drinking other types of milk. Some people enjoy the flavor, while others mainly drink milk for the health benefits.
For the most part, people only correlate milk with strong bones. Although, the liquid can be beneficial in many other ways. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most interesting facts about milk.
Historical Benefits of Raw Milk
Human beings have relied on milk for as long as we’ve been around. However, for the longest time, we exclusively drank breast milk. It was the only way mothers knew how to feed their babies and ensure they grew strong and healthy.
Plus, people believed that the liquid had other medical properties. For example, some cultures use breast milk from the mother of a male baby to treat burns. It has a soothing effect and could promote healing.
Then came the Neolithic Revolution. That’s when many human cultures discovered the benefits of agriculture. They started growing all sorts of crops to support the continuous growth of the population. With that came the idea of animal grazing.
People began domesticating animals like cattle, sheep, and goats. At first, we used these animals for their meat. It was the easiest way to increase the protein intake of a community. Yet, soon later, we learned we could consume other mammalian milk.
Moving on, not all milk benefits are health-related. After cattle grazing shifted into high gear, people sold the liquid as a means of providing for their families. So, milk helped the progression of the economy.
Finally, in the Middle Ages, people referred to it as “virtuous white liquor”.
That’s because alcoholic beverages were generally safer to consume than the water available. It was a sign that the liquid was safe to drink, straight from the tap.
The Different Uses of Milk
Because of the composition of milk, we can use the liquid in several ways. Most commonly, people drink milk for its health benefits. Yet, that’s only the first application in a long list of uses.
As we mentioned, some cultures used milk to treat wounds. They’d soak dressings in the white liquid and apply it directly to the skin to alleviate pain.
Although, this wasn’t a great idea, since milk contains a few bacteria that may be harmful. So, when infections started popping up, people stopped this practice.
Yet, this gave us another way to use milk. After applying milk to the skin using a dressing, people noticed a change in texture. The white liquid acted as a sort of moisturizer that could soften your skin in no time.
That’s why milk baths were incredibly popular for a while. It was the ancient version of applying a thick moisturizer to keep your skin supple.
Other than that, there are a few domestic uses of milk. For instance, you can use the liquid to remove ink stains and even polish silver. Plus, we all know that a glass of milk after a spicy meal can take away most of the burning sensation.
Moving on, humans discovered that we can use milk in certain recipes to enhance them. A great example of that is a meat tenderizer. When protein absorbs the white liquid, it softens and becomes easier to cook and digest.
Finally, there are a few exotic uses of milk that sound like science fiction. Some people rely on milk to help seal cracks in dishes.
Types of Milk
We’ve talked about mammalian milk and how it can be beneficial. Yet, that’s not the only type of milk on the market today. We can classify milk using two different categories. The first deals with where the liquid comes from.
There are countless other varieties of milk that we can get from several sources. For instance, in the past few years, almond milk has skyrocketed in popularity.
That’s because it’s lactose-free and exceptionally nutritious. So, vegans and people with lactose sensitivity could drink it as a milk alternative.
Here are a few popular milk varieties:
- Cashew milk – has 50 percent more calcium than regular milk and has a much creamier texture.
- Coconut milk – can lower your cholesterol levels and stimulate weight loss.
- Soy milk – contains all nine essential amino acids. Because of that, it’s an excellent source of protein.
- Rice milk – is hypoallergenic and contains less fat than regular milk.
- Oat milk – has a similar texture and mouthfeel to regular milk, but with no lactose.
As you can tell, each one of these has a unique flavor profile and a distinct set of benefits.
Other than that, we can classify milk based on its fat content. That’s where we get full-fat, skimmed, and 2 percent milk.
Nutritional Facts, Calories, and Sugar Amount of Milk
At this point, you may be wondering, why is milk so good for you? Well, to help you understand that, we have to take a look at the composition of the liquid.
In this section, we’ll dissect the nutritional value of milk and what role each component plays. Here’s a quick table to make your life easier:
|Components||Full Fat Milk (1 Cup - 244 g)||Low-Fat Milk (1 Cup - 244 g)||Fat-Free Milk (1 Cup - 244 g)
|Water Content||215.5 g||219.4 g||222.56
|Calories||146 kcal||102 kcal||83 kcal|
|Fat||7.93 g||2.37 g||0.2 g
|Total Carbohydrates||11.03 g||12.18 g||12.15 g
|Protein||7.86 g||8.22 g||8.26 g
|Cholesterol||24 mg||12 mg||5 mg
|Calcium||276 mg||290 mg||306 mg
|Sodium||98 mg||107 mg||103 mg
|Sugar||12.83 g||12.69 g||12.47 g
|Vitamin A||68 µg ||142 µg ||149 µg
As you can tell, the majority of milk consists of water. Because of that, it’s an excellent way to stay hydrated. Milk also contains a high concentration of calcium. It’s an essential mineral that can help you develop strong bones and teeth.
Lastly, milk is an amazing source of vitamin A. This nutrient can boost your vision, improve your immune system, and aid in growth and development.
Health Benefits of Drinking Raw Milk
With the components of milk out of the way, we can dive into the advantages of the liquid. In this section, we’ll cover all the different ways milk can be beneficial to you health-wise.
Milk Benefits Bone Development
Humans have associated milk with strong bones for many years. Most people think it’s because of the calcium content. This is an exceptionally crucial mineral for a few reasons.
For starters, it makes up the majority of the structure of bones and teeth. Other than that, it helps keep your tissues rigid, strong, and flexible. Because of that, it can make normal bodily movements easier.
Although, calcium isn’t the only mineral that aids with bone development. Milk also contains phosphorus, potassium, protein, and a few other vitamins. Each one of these will contribute to a healthy skeleton.
On top of that, milk contains trace amounts of vitamin D and vitamin K. Both of which are necessary for the absorption of calcium.
Milk Benefits the Digestion Process
When you’re having digestive issues, your first instinct is to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
Yet, did you know that a glass of milk can be just as beneficial? That’s because the white liquid contains a few nutrients that can aid with digestion.
Right off the bat, we talked about how vitamin D can help your body absorb calcium. This should aid you in breaking down the mineral rapidly to reduce the strain on your digestive system.
Besides that, milk has significant amounts of vitamin B. This is a crucial nutrient that helps your body transform food into energy. Plus, it can boost your mood and decrease stress levels.
Moving on, there are trace amounts of selenium in milk. It can regulate your thyroid hormone levels, which should improve your metabolism.
Milk Can Provide the Body With Energy
Milk can provide you with a decent amount of energy because it contains lactose. It’s a complex sugar that we can break down and convert into energy. So, a glass of milk can give you a boost of power that can last you a while.
Moving on, the protein content of milk can also contribute to your energy supply. Not only can you use it as fuel, but it’ll keep you feeling full for hours. That way, you don’t have to constantly snack and waste energy on digestion.
On top of that, since lactose is a complex sugar, it takes a while for your body to break it down. That means it won’t cause a blood sugar spike. Because of that, avoiding sugar crashes should be a breeze.
Milk Improves the Health of Your Skin and Hair
Few people know this, but drinking milk can do wonders for your skin and hair. For starters, the liquid contains a healthy dose of protein. This can go towards growing new hair follicles and keeping your locks looking shiny and silky.
Other than that, milk is an excellent source of vitamin A and zinc. Both of these nutrients can contribute to softening the skin and maintaining its elasticity.
Milk Can Help Prevent Cardiac Disease
There are few studies that show milk can help improve cardiac health. That’s because of its omega-3 content. This is a healthy fat with many benefits.
For instance, people associate omega-3 with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in men. It can regulate your sugar and cholesterol levels. Plus, it’ll keep you full for hours after a meal. This should reduce your daily calorie intake.
Besides that, omega-3 can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women. That’s because it can slow down the build-up of plaque in your arteries. On top of that, omega-3 can help regulate your heartbeats and reduce the chances of arrhythmias developing.
Milk Can Aid With Weight Loss
If you’re struggling to shed those few extra pounds, a glass of milk can help with that. For starters, we talked about how several components of milk can keep you full for longer.
That includes proteins and omega-3. Because of that, you’ll be less likely to binge and overeat.
Aside from that, milk contains conjugated linoleic acid. This mineral has quite a few benefits. First up, it’ll reduce your chances of developing diabetes. Other than that, it can promote fat breakdown and inhibit the production of new fat.
Moving on, there’s evidence that shows high levels of dietary calcium can slow down fat absorption in your body.
Milk Benefits for Dehydration
Since water is the main component of milk, the liquid can quench your thirst in a flash. Plus, milk contains fats, proteins, and sugars. This allows the liquid to spend more time in your stomach being digested.
So, you can enjoy the hydrating effects for a few hours. That makes it more moisturizing than water.
Milk Benefits Your Immune System
There are only a few drinks that pack as much of a nutritional punch as milk. The liquid is chock-full of vitamins and minerals that are all good for you. Each nutrient will help your body in a distinct way.
For example, potassium can regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. Plus, this mineral can improve the performance of your nervous system. On its own, potassium will enhance your health and improve your quality of life.
Yet, when you combine it with all the other nutrients in milk, your whole system will benefit. That’s because when your body has a proper supply of vitamins and minerals, it’ll perform optimally.
This means it can fight off diseases and infections more efficiently. So, your immunity system will get a nice boost.
Potential Risks of Raw Milk
Even though milk is incredibly nutritious, it comes with a few side effects. In this section, we’ll dive into some of the potential drawbacks of drinking raw milk.
Lactose is a complex sugar that consists of galactose and glucose. So, before we can use it as an energy source, we’ll need to break it down into its components. To do that, our bodies rely on an enzyme called lactase.
However, some people have trouble producing sufficient amounts of the enzyme. Their bodies are incapable of making lactase to break down the sugar. These individuals suffer from lactose intolerance.
So, when they consume milk or other dairy products, they can experience bloating and diarrhea. In severe cases, lactose intolerance can even lead to abdominal pain and nausea.
Luckily, there are many lactose-free milk options on the market. That includes oat, soy, and almond milk.
Even though a cup of milk can improve your skin’s health, too much can spell trouble for your pores.
That’s because milk contains a few hormones, such as Insulin-like Growth Factor 1. This chemical promotes the production of androgen hormones like testosterone.
In small doses, this can be beneficial to your health. Yet, when the concentration of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 increases in your system, it can lead to inflammation. Your body will slightly swell up and you may feel bloated.
Aside from making daily tasks more difficult, it can also clog your pores. This, in turn, can worsen acne.
Moving on, drinking large amounts of milk can have much more severe side effects than a few pimples. That’s because of its high hormonal content. Milk contains Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, luteinizing hormone, and oxytocin.
Our bodies need to maintain specific levels of these chemicals. So, when you consume too much milk, it can be difficult for your body to regulate your hormone levels.
Raw milk can be incredibly good for you, but there’s one major drawback. Untreated milk may contain all sorts of bacteria and other microorganisms.
For instance, unpasteurized milk may be the perfect host environment for Salmonella and E. Coli.
If these pathogens are in the milk, you may experience many symptoms of food poisoning. That includes nausea, dehydration, abdominal pain, and fever.
Most of the time, people will tell you to stay away from processed foods because they don’t contain as many nutrients. The same is true for milk. When we pasteurize milk, the heat will significantly reduce the nutritional composition of the liquid. Yet, it’ll also get rid of the majority of harmful bacteria.
Is a Milk Bath Healthy?
The simple answer to this question is yes, a milk bath can be exceptionally healthy. That’s especially true if you have particularly dry skin. Milk can help with hydration because of its water, fat, and protein content. Plus, milk is an excellent natural exfoliant.
Milk in Pregnancy
Pregnancy can take a massive toll on your body. It’ll deplete your vitamin and mineral reserves and cause countless physical changes. So, to ensure you stay healthy throughout the gestational period, you need to replenish these nutrients.
Thankfully, milk should have all the vitamins and minerals you need to support your pregnancy. That’s why most doctors recommend three cups of milk per day to expecting mothers.
Is Milk Good for Babies?
While babies rely on breast milk as their main source of nutrition, regular milk can be harmful to them. That’s because it’s rich in proteins and minerals. These molecules are too large for the infant’s kidneys to filter.
So, they’ll keep circulating around the baby’s system, which can lead to intestinal bleeding. For that reason, if you have a child that’s 12 months old or younger, it’s best to keep regular milk out of their diet.
Can Dogs and Cats Have Milk?
Cats and dogs can digest small amounts of milk. Yet, you have to remember that most furry friends are lactose intolerant to some degree. So, if they drink large amounts of milk, it can wreak havoc on their digestive systems.
Tips and Recipes for Milk
Now that you’re aware of the benefits and risks of milk, we can jump into a couple of recipes.
These will help you introduce the ingredient into your diet in creative ways. That way, you’ll always have an excuse to sneak in an extra dose of milk.
There’s nothing more refreshing than a fruit smoothie. It can give you a boost of energy, and it’s incredibly easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need for this drink:
- ½ a cup of milk
- ½ a cup of your favorite fresh fruit
- 2 cups of frozen fruit
- ¼ cup of yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of sweetener
All you have to do is throw these ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. You can even add a few nuts on top as a garnish.
Hot Milk and Honey
Many people have trouble letting go of the stress of the day. They carry it with them all the way to bed at night. That’s why insomnia is quite common. Luckily, a glass of milk can help put your mind at ease.
Start by warming up a cup of milk in the microwave. Then, as soon as it starts simmering, stir in a spoonful of honey until it melts. This will give you a soothing drink that you can enjoy at any point during the day.