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Are dairy products good food for humans? That is a big controversy that has been raging for some time among foodies. There is one theory of eating for your blood type that espouses milk for some blood types but not others. That leaves me out because I don’t know my blood type.

Some cultural groups have been drinking milk for thousands of years. Others, like many Asians, never developed the necessary enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk. This enzyme is present in all humans as infants but in cultures where dairy is not a part of the normal diet, it normally disappears when the child is taken off the mother’s milk.

Cow’s milk is the most common dairy that we drink, but humans all over the world drink milk from a variety of animals such as goats, camels, buffalo and mares.

Goat milk closely resembles mother’s milk. Its proteins are better balanced. Some people claim that it is the best milk to drink for health.


Goat’s Milk compared to Cow’s Milk:

  • Is higher in total fat
  • Is higher in medium chain triglycerides
  • Causes fewer allergic reactions because of the protein structure
  • Is easier to digest because of a lack of agglutinin (as in cow’s milk), lower levels of alpha-s1-casein, and smaller fat globules.
  • Has lower carbohydrates
  • Has higher vitamin A, B3 and B6, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and antioxidants.

The only problem with goat’s milk, for me is that unless it is from really clean goats and is very fresh, it often tastes like goat’s smell. Maybe I’m just a prima donna, though and need to get over myself.

Although milk is probably not healthy for all adults, for those who can handle it, milk from whichever animal it pours from, can be a healthy and nutritious.

One cup of whole cow’s milk contains”

159 calories
11.4 grams carbohydrates
8.5 grams protein
5.07 grams saturated fat
2.65 grams unsaturated fat
33 mg cholesterol
350 IU vitamin A
093 mg B1, .395 mg B2, .102 mg B6, .871 mg B12, 5 mcg biotin, .012 mg folic acid
.205 mg sodium
228 mg phosphorus,
351 mg potassium
291 mg calcium
.12 mg iron
33 mg magnesium
.5 mg copper
.005 mg manganese
3.17 mcg selenium
.93 mg zinc.

Unfortunately most milk is no longer a Real Food. It is Pasteurized and homogenized.  Pasteurization was invented to kill potentially harmful bacteria in milk. Milk is Pasturiized in a lot of different ways:

  • High heat—about 161 degrees for 15 seconds.
  • Low heat—145 F for 30 minutes.
  • Flash—very high heat for 3-15 seconds.
  • Irradiation—Milk is exposed to gamma rays
  • Ultra-High heat—280-302 F for 1-2 seconds then packaged in airtight containers. Can be  stored without refrigeration for 90 days.

Although I am in the “raw milk” camp, there are a lot of myths about Pasteurization that should be noted. It does not reduce the nutritional value. It does not cause lactose intolerance. It is not associated with milk allergies. It does not kill ALL the enzymes in milk.

However, there are some who believe that Pasteurization causes more harm than good and a clean dairy with healthy cows is all that is needed to prevent disease.

I know, this is a touchy subject and we could go back and forth for-EVER and no one would be convinced that the other is right. Sort of like the McCoys and Hatfields.

One belief about why Pasteurization is bad is that some bacteria survive and because the balance of bacteria in the milk is upset, the remaining organisms multiply at a fantastic rate of speed. By the time the milk reaches the shelves it can be contaminated with high amounts of harmful bacteria such as coliform.

Although I have read this claim in numerous places, I haven’t found any real evidence that this is true. Maybe it’s just one of those “secret” things? Or it could just be false.

Some people believe that Pasteurization also produces a milk that is extremely difficult to digest because the tampering with the protein molecules collapse and tangle, making it nearly impossible to digest properly. Longer heating of the  milk would solve this problem, for then the protein molecules would completely break down and separate into divided amino acids, actually helping the digestion.

Pasteurized milk often causes constipation, but raw milk rarely does.  Boiled milk is easily digested and assimilated. Boiling milk also sterilizes it. People in India, who have been using raw milk for thousands of years, boil it before using it. So do the Swiss.  Moreover, boiling milk does not greatly alter its nutritional value.

I believe that pure, raw milk from healthy, organically fed cows is safe and healthy to drink. Unfortunately raw milk is impossible to get in most cities. If you can get it, some people thing it is a good idea to take the safeguard of boiling it.

So the jury is out about Pasteurized milk. My beef  (no pun intended) is more with homogenization.

Since raw milk is available where I live but costs a king’s ransom, I usually opt for Trader Joe’s organic Cream at the Top milk. It is Pasteurizedc, but not homogenized.

Homogenized milk is a more serious problem in my mind, and I’m not alone in this. Many medical researchers feel that homogenized milk is one of the main causes of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Homogenization breaks down the fat globules so the cream no longer separates and rises to the top. This process releases a normally bound enzyme called xanthine oxidase.  This enzyme destroys chemicals in the body that normally protect the arteries.

In countries like India where milk is routinely boiled, heart disease is substantially less prevalent. I know, that’s not a scientific study but there are a number of studies showing a correlation between homogenization and heart disease. Some of these are cited on: http://www.realmilk.com/homogenization.html

Boiling destroys xanthine oxidase. I believe that boiling any milk other than raw from healthy, organically fed cows is the best way to consume it.

Other forms of milk, such as white cheeses without preservatives, kefir, yogurt and buttermilk are, for those people who are not lactose intolerant, wonderful foods for our body. Many long-lived, healthy people come from traditions in which cultured milks are the mainstay of their diets.

Yogurt is one of the oldest foods known to man. Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff believes that the long-lived people of Bulgaria owe their health to the large amounts of yogurt they eat.

Cultured milks are easily digested. Culturing milk decreases its amount of vitamin B12 but increases the folic acid content. Calcium, phosphorus and iron are easier to absorb from yogurt than from milk.

Cultured (probiotic) dairy products are beneficial to the intestines. They inhibit the harmful bacteria that cause diarrhea, intestinal infection, and flatulence. Cultured milks can benefit people who have harmed their intestinal flora by taking antibiotics.

Many people cut down on dairy products because of a fear from ingesting too much cholesterol. This is another one of those battleground debates. Some people say that milk does not increase our blood cholesterol. Others say it does. Some people cite studies that show milk, especially cultured milk, can actually help lower blood cholesterol levels. There’s a lot of buzz lately about milk helping us actually lose weight.

Although cheese is a nutritious food, many cheeses are high in fat. Two 1″ cubes of cheddar cheese contains 11.8 grams of fat. Cheese is a source of calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin.

As an advocate for Real Food, I am a fan of cheese, but I am choosy. No Velveeta or American cheese-type-food, or cheese that squirts from a can. Good cheese is not dyed or preserved.

People have been drinking milk, eating yogurt and other cultured dairy products, and eating cheese for a very, very long time. In my book, that qualifies as Real Food. Maybe it’s just the modern tampering with dairy that renders it so problematic. I don’t have the answers for everyone. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, dairy is great if you aren’t lactose intolerant. It is Real Food when it is in its traditional form.

For more about Real Food, see my website at anitasrealfood.com

Tell me your tales of dairy – milk to cheese, ice cream to kefir. What do you think?