Understanding all the milk's

Ok, is it just me or are you totally confused by your dairy section these days? There must 20 different types of milk we can buy. One is fortified with this and one is free from that. I grew up on plain old 2% but it seems the times have changed. Here’s a rundown of the milk choices available.

·Whole Milk – Contains 3.25% milk fat which equates to 8 grams per 8 ounce serving. Usually fortified with Vitamins A and D.

·Reduced Fat – Contains 5 grams of fat per 8 ounce serving. This one is also usually fortified with A & D. While it contains less fat than whole milk, don’t be fooled. It’s still not considered “low fat” so if you are watching your fat intake, try to stick with one of the next options.

·Low Fat – Contains 3 grams of fat per 8 ounce serving. Again, usually contains vitamins A & D.

·Fat-Free – Otherwise known as skim milk, this one must contain less than 1 gram of milk-fat per serving. And, you guessed it, skim milk usually also contains A & D.

·Reduced Calorie Milk – Originally called, “low carb milk”, it is really just a reduced sugar version of regular milk resulting in about ½ the calories. The sugar has been replaced with artificial sweeteners in most cases.

·Protein-Fortified Milk – With added milk proteins and non fat solids, this option provides more protein and calcium than regular milk and is often referred to as “Plus.”

·Lactose-Free Milk – The natural sugar in this milk is removed. That’s it. Everything else remains the same. This one is good for lactose intolerant folks who still like a big glass of milk with their cookies! (Fat free cookies of course!)

·Cultured Buttermilk – This milk has bacteria added to it. These bacteria munch out on the lactose in milk giving it a tartness (think yogurt) from the lactic acid produced. It’s thicker texture makes it hard to believe but buttermilk is usually low-fat.

·Organic Milk – Anything with this label must come from a certified organic farm, so deemed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other than that, it’s exactly the same as regular milk. A biggie here for some folks is that the USDA guidelines for organic farms includes a restriction against using antibiotics in their cows.

·No Artificial Hormones Milk – Milk produced in dairies that do not use bioengineered cow hormone. Research indicate the engineered version is safe, however it weakens the bones in the cows and increases the instance of mammary infection, thus requiring antibiotics. As with organic milk, you may choose this no artificial hormones milk to avoid the antibiotic aspect.

·Raw Milk – This one you can’t get just anywhere. The FDA has deemed it unsafe because it is unpasteurized. Some farms sell it directly and a few states allow it’s sale in stores but it cannot be shipped across state lines. Raw milk causes double the instances of Campylobacter, E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella.

·Goat’s Milk – This one is pretty self-explanitory. Some people believe that goat’s milk is easier to digest thus making it an option for those with lactose intolerance. However, it does contain lactose. The difference is more in its protein composition and its higher proportion of small milk-fat globules.

·Ultra-Pasteurized Milk – This milk is heated to a higher temperature than regular milk and remains fresh (if refrigerated) for 30-90 days if unopened.

·UHT Milk – Also heated to ultra high temperatures (get it – UHT) and then packaged in aseptic cartons. This milk may be kept at room temperature and lasts roughly 3 to 6 months unopened. You must refrigerate after opening though.

·Sweetened Condensed Milk – With three times as much fat, six times the calories and twelve times the sugar of regular milk, this one is usually only used in recipes for desserts and candies.

·Evaporated Milk – Half the water is removed by evaporation giving it double the protein and calcium of regular milk. It’s a good substitute for cream, good for cooking as it is better resists curdling and it comes in skim or 2%.

·Instant Nonfat Dry Milk – This milk reconstitutes with water, doesn’t spoil like regular milk so it’s good for emergency situations and can be used in smoothies, mashed potatoes and soups to boost the protein.

·Soymilk – This one is not a dairy product. If you are going to drink soymilk you should look for one with 12 grams or less of sugar and that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. You need 25% more soymilk calcium to absorb the same amount of cows milk calcium.

Choose the milk products that are right for you and research the products before jumping on the latest milk bandwagon. What you think might be better for you may actually require supplementation to provide an ample supply of nutrients.

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