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Do you even remember the time when you had to choose between just two or three types of milk? Well, it seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?
Now that there are so many types, sometimes you might even think it was much better earlier!
We understand the dilemma going on in your mind while looking at a dairy case nowadays. There are just too many options: some have similar taste, composition, and health benefits, while others are quite different.
With a number of plant-based options being added in recent years, the task of choosing the right type of milk might seem even more confusing. In this article, we try to simplify things for you, breaking down the essential information of 26 different types of milk.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight to the deets!
Types Of Milk
- Types Of Milk
- Lactose-Free Milk
- Whole Milk
- Oat Milk
- Cow Milk
- Almond Milk
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Soy Milk
- Skim Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Goat Milk
- Full Cream Milk
- Rice Milk
- Buffalo Milk
- 2% Milk
- Ultra-Filtered Milk
- Raw Milk
- Low fat milk
- Cashew Milk
- Organic Milk
- Flavored Milk
- Hazelnut Milk
- Flaxseed Milk
The terms lactose-free and milk seem contradictory, don’t they? However, true to its name, the milk is indeed made free from lactose and is a quite suitable choice for lactose-intolerant people.
Lactose is a natural sugar element found in many kinds of milk, which some people have difficulty in digesting. The intolerance to lactose can go to such an extent that one glass of milk can lead to diarrhea or vomiting. This sugar can also trigger stomach troubles in people who are not allergic to it.
The lactose-free type of milk is manufactured by adding the enzyme lactase to the regular type. Lactase helps to break down the lactose present in the body. However, the addition of this enzyme does not alter the taste, texture, or even the nutritional profile of the milk in any way. The taste is identical to that of regular cow milk.
This type of milk has several vital micronutrients, such as calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. Proteins are also abundant in lactose-free milk, with a single cup of 240 ml containing 8 grams. Thus, though the milk might come at a slightly higher price, it is a wise option for the health-conscious lot.
Also known to many as ‘regular’ milk, whole milk is purer than most of the other types. The milk has a fat content of around 3.5% (it may typically vary between 3.25 to 3.5). This milk is quite wholesome due to its thick and creamy nature.
Whole milk is considered to be very similar to raw milk, since it tastes like that of raw cow’s milk before processing.
Also, the fat content of the milk is nearly the same as the raw variety, though it is properly pasteurized and homogenized. As for the calorie content, an 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains about 150 calories.
This milk goes well with oatmeal in the breakfast diet. A dash of whole milk in the meal works in freshening you up in the morning before you head to work.
It is also quite helpful in cooking as well as baking, acting as an agent for moisturizing the recipe, and making it more tender. Baking muffins with whole milk makes sure they don’t dry out and makes them a fine crumb.
This popular variety of milk is a mixture of water and oats, which are either steel-cut, rolled, or whole. Then on, the blend is strained very carefully to come up with tasty plant-based milk. Straining results in milk which is slightly thin, making this type a great choice for making coffee or even pancakes.
Oats consist of a huge number of beta-glucans and soluble fiber that makes the milk a fantastic drink to build your immune system. It also helps to increase the rate of metabolism. The mild flavor along with a subtle sweetness is characteristic to this type of milk.
Those of you who have a lot of dietary restrictions can include this milk in your diet as it is not only purely vegetarian but also totally free of lactose, nuts, and soya. Beta-glucans present in the milk makes it very beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Also, rich amounts of calcium and vitamin D make the milk useful for maintaining bone health and lower the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular types consumed all over the world, this milk comes from the mammary glands of cows. It is the primary source of animal milk in several regions of the world. Behind its popularity is its immensely rich profile of nutrients along with their varied benefits for health.
The milk is particularly rich in proteins, which signifies that it contains all the vital amino acids required by our body to produce proteins. It also contains high amounts of vitamin B12, a vitamin that is vital for the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Furthermore, this vitamin is also a carrier of iron to the bloodstream and hence helps in the formation of new blood cells. The only major drawback of this milk is that it is much higher in unsaturated fat compared to the other options on the list.
For instance, one cup of this variety contains as much as 4.6 grams of saturated fat compared to a 3.1grams content in 2% milk. Also, it has high amounts of lactose and hence is unsuitable for lactose-intolerant people.
Another nutrient-rich plant-milk variety is this one, which is also quite popular among fitness enthusiasts. For preparing this dairy-free product, almonds are first roasted and then ground with water.
The grinding is done until the mixture is blended perfectly. The resultant rich milk has a nutty taste, which is loved by many, along with a texture with a unique creamy and thick texture.
Being a nut-based variety, this milk has healthy fats, namely the mono and polyunsaturated ones, in abundance. The milk is also rich in nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, fiber, proteins, and vitamin E.
Notably, being free from cholesterol and lactose, this milk is also quite suitable for lactose-intolerant people who prefer to avoid dairy products.
Low content of sodium in the milk is beneficial for maintaining proper heart health. Furthermore, it is the milk option with the lowest calories, having only 30 calories in an average cup. The milk also has zero carbs and sugar content.
While the milk can be used in place for dairy-sourced milk in your daily diet, it can also be used in a wide range of recipes. Almond milk works amazingly when used with mashed potatoes or the daily oatmeal. Besides, it is also a great milk type to use in coffee and tea.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
This type of milk is very similar to the evaporated form of milk in the way the water is removed from the cow’s milk to produce it. The water removal process leaves a dense liquid, which is also very creamy in nature.
Though it is a kind of milk, there is a lot of difference in the texture, consistency, and taste compared to the regular varieties. The taste of this milk is very exceedingly sweet, while the color and texture are darker and consistent, respectively.
This variety of milk is different from the evaporated milk in that it has sugar added as a preserving agent for increasing the shelf life. The sugar added during the processing of the milk is much more than the amount which is naturally-present in this variety.
However, this milk does contain some amount of protein, calcium, vitamin B12 since it is made from cow’s milk after all. Owing to its very sweet taste and amazing consistency, the most predominant use of this variety is in beverages and sweet dishes.
This variety of milk is made using soybeans that have been dried. The soybeans are soaked and then thoroughly ground in water to give the milk, which is a super healthy choice. The plant-based milk is packed with nutrients, which makes it a favorite among vegetarians.
The variety is known to be a thicker as well as sweeter version of almond milk and is considered a superb alternative for dairy milk. Its main ingredient originating from a plant, the milk is naturally free of cholesterol, contains no lactose, and is low in its saturated fat content as well. The most appealing aspect about this variety is that it is filled with as much protein as in the dairy varieties.
In a study that drew a comparison between the nutritional profiles of coconut, soy, almond and rice milk, soya was found to contain the most amount of essential nutrients. This led to the researchers concluding that it was second only to cow milk in terms of the nutritious value.
Thus, if you are thinking of preparing a sweet dish with a milk alternative, soy milk would be the most spt choice.
This kind of milk is also popularly referred to as fat free milk, and is much popular among followers of strict weight-controlled diets.
As its alternative name suggests, the reason why it is considered so healthy is its zero fat content. The absence of fat also makes this milk much thinner compared to other varieties.
This type of milk goes through a special process known as skimming, where the cream is removed totally. The taste of this milk becomes watery by the cream removal, which is substituted by the addition of milk powders or other additives. Thereby, the taste of the milk is enhanced to a great extent.
Skim milk can be used quite conveniently in a cereal meal but is a rather less useful variety for baking or cooking. The type of milk was much more popular in the ’90s when low-fat diets were considered ideal. At present, fats are not considered that bad, so many don’t mind having milk that has moderate amounts of fat.
This variety is also popularly referred to as unsweetened condensed milk by people in several countries. The milk has around 60 percent of its water content removed. This is done by simmering the milk over a low heat source.
Followed by this, the milk goes through a process of homogenization, whereby the fat molecules present in it are allowed to integrate together.
This method gives evaporated milk extended shelf life. The slow process of simmering the milk overheat leads to the formation of a very thick, creamy, and rich product that gives a mild flavor like that of caramel.
Evaporated milk can be an ideal choice for those trying to put on weight healthily or increase their intake of minerals. Weight gain is facilitated by the high concentration of nutrients and the lack of any added sugar in the milk.
Due to its low-fat content but rich creaminess, many consider this milk to be “the best of both worlds”. This feature also makes it a popular replacement for cream in the recipes that require cream as a main ingredient. Notably, the general serving size for this milk is twice that of heavy cream.
Another healthy alternative to cow milk is this variety, which is considered an ideal option by many nutrition experts. To obtain this plant-based milk, hemp seeds are crushed and soaked in water at first.
The mixture obtained is then blended as thoroughly as possible, resulting in a delicious variety of milk. It has a lovely creamy and rich consistency, as well as a nutty and earthy flavor.
The consumption of this variety has often been associated with controversies, taking into consideration its use in producing marijuana. Although, this milk does not contain any amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), ruling out any possibilities of producing any mind-altering effect.
Rather, hemp milk is a superb source of calcium, protein, iron, potassium, and many more such minerals. All such nutrients make this milk capable of producing many health benefits, including better cognition, improved skin, maintenance of bone density and strong immunity.
A cup of hemp milk will provide you with 140 calories, 3 grams protein and 5 grams fat. What more can you ask for!
Coconut milk is a variety that has gained much popularity in the recent few years and tastes even better than cow milk. The milk comes from the meal of a freshly opened coconut. It is ensured that the coconuts are fully mature and have turned brown.
The meat is first shredded and then simmered in water, after which the pieces of coconut are strained out. The creamy layer which is rich in fats is then combined with coconut water to produce the coconut milk.
Also, a thinner version of coconut milk is prepared in the same way from grated coconut flesh that is left after the straining. The thick and creamy texture is a bonus in the thicker version of the milk.
Coconut milk can be called a powerhouse of nutrients due to its rich and varied nutrient content. Several nutrients including calcium, fiber, vitamins, selenium and potassium, are present in the variety. The most well-known health benefits of the milk include weight loss, improved heart health and enhanced immune system.
A popular alternative to cow milk, this animal protein has gained much prominence in the last few years. It is even considered a superfood by many people around the world for its high nutritional value. In fact, consumption of goat milk by humans dates back to many millennia, which shows its benefits were known to mankind for ages.
This milk is loaded with key vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B5 and Biotin. Minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron are present in plenty as well.
While the vitamins help promote metabolism and maintain the hair and skin, minerals lower blood pressure levels and improve bone health. The milk also has a lower amount of dietary cholesterol compared to cows’ milk.
As for its consumption methods, goat milk can surely be had as a drink. That is the ideal form, as the nutritional value is retained to the maximum.
The taste of the milk can, however, seem stronger and of a different type, so you may require time for adjusting to it. Also, the milk can be used to prepare sweet dishes such as a delicious Greek yogurt or a Mexican caramel candy.
Full Cream Milk
This is the creamiest milk in terms of both taste and texture, thanks to its fat content, which is the highest among all other types of milk. However, the term full cream milk is also used to refer to milk, which contains the same proportion of fat as whole milk. Hence, the two kinds of milk are quite similar.
This kind is secreted by the mammary glands of most mammals, making it a highly beneficial food for people of all ages.
A small glass of 100-ml full cream milk consists of about 4.7 grams carbohydrates, 3.3 grams protein, and 3.9 grams fat. The combined calorific content of these nutrients is about 66 kcal, which is why this milk is a perfect choice for people who count their calories regularly.
This kind is also a wonderful ingredient for making coffees, due to its highly creamy nature. It is this creaminess that gives an amazing silky frothiness along with an unimaginably rich taste to the coffee.
Among one the sweetest types of milk, this is also the least likely to cause allergic reactions compared to all the other types. So those of you who prefer dairy-free milk types but are allergic to soy or nuts, can go for this one.
To prepare this milk, brown rice is first boiled and then mixed with starch and syrup from the same kind of rice. Its sweet taste can be called medium-rich in comparison with the other types.
The sweetness, along with a flavor distinct from other types of milk, gives a quite pleasant appeal to the taste buds. Also, besides with its low allergen content, this milk is free of lactose as well, making it an ideal choice for lactose-intolerant people.
Furthermore, the milk is also free of fat and cholesterol, which makes it suitable for people having cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. But a major drawback of this type is the low amount of calcium and protein.
Apart from this, one serving of rice milk contains as much as 26 grams of carbohydrates, making it rich in calories as well as sugars.
Majority of this milk comes from river buffalos and is produced mostly in India and Pakistan. Together these nations account for 80 percent of the production while the rest is produced in Egypt, Nepal and China.
This type is not widely popular owing to the presence of excessive amounts of fat and calories. However, it does have a fair amount of nutrients as well that contribute in various ways to maintain our health.
This milk is considered an important component of any healthy diet in quite a few regions of the world, especially in Asia. It has been found useful in lowering blood pressure , maintaining bone health and stimulating blood circulation.
Also, buffalo milk provides protection to the heart against many possible ailments. Furthermore, it is rich in protein, which gives a feeling of fullness and thus helps to reduce intake of food through the day.
The high mineral content of this milk is another plus point. Minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and calcium combined with vitamin A boost immunity and stimulate the growth and development process in the body. The high protein and fat content together lend a creamy as well as rich texture ideal for producing quality butter, yogurt and cream.
The name of this milk owes to its fat content which is exactly 2% of its weight. It is also referred to as “reduced-fat” milk by many. The milk is obtained through an important process wherein extra-fat is removed from it.
This kind contains calories lesser than whole milk, but more than the skimmed type, and is hence a great option in-between. Having a very mild flavor and being comparatively thinner than whole milk, it is also a great source of vitamin D, calcium, sodium, and other important nutrients.
2% milk is used in tea by many people due to the fact that it imparts a smooth texture and offers a delicious taste akin to rich-milk. Thus you are able to cut down on fat while not having to sacrifice the sweet and pleasant taste of milk.
This milk is also high in proteins and adds as much as 8 grams of the nutrient to one cup of tea. Thus it is one of the best types of milk that can be consumed daily.
Also commonly referred to as ‘diafiltered milk’ this kind is prepared by running milk through a porous and thin membrane which separates its contents. Basically, the method is derived from water filtration which removes the impurities present in water.
In this case, the intense filtration makes the milk rich in protein as well as calcium. The sugar and lactose are removed to a great extent. The small lactose molecules pass easily along with all the water, leaving behind the proteins in the milk.
Thus, one cup of pure ultrafiltered milk is said to contain 13 grams of protein, 370 milligrams calcium, and a nominal 6 grams of sugar. The sugar content is much lower than the traditional flavored variety. This milk is loved by many who say it is way more creamy than regular milk.
Ultra-filtered milk is the favourite post-workout drink for fitness enthusiasts, for its almost fat-free nature. It is a great replacement for a protein drink for recovery post-exercise, which is why athletes also love it.
Besides, the milk has also proved helpful in treating many lifestyle diseases. For diabetic people who need to regulate their carbohydrate intake, this milk does the job. Furthermore, the calcium content of ultra-filtered milk makes it helpful for women susceptible to osteoporosis.
As the name suggests, raw milk simply refers to animal milk in its natural uncooked and unprocessed form. It can come from a variety of domesticated animals such as buffalos, camel, goats, cows and sheep.
The edibility of this kind has been debated for a long time. Since the milk is not homogenized, concerns have been raised regarding its safety for human consumption. However, those who recommend consuming it argue that it is ‘complete’ and pure since it has no added flavors or preservatives.
In fact, since it is not processed in any way, its natural nutrient content remains unaltered. All amino acids, minerals, vitamins and proteins are intact within the milk. Advocates of this milk opine that the heating simply destroys its basic nutritional value.
The nutrients present in the milk include magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and vitamins A, B, C and D and the constituents of the B complex.
Together, all these nutrients work to sustain, strengthen and nourish all the body systems. Physicians especially recommend raw milk to those with asthma, certain allergic conditions, and lactose intolerance.
This type of milk is often mistaken by many as being very buttery and containing high amounts of fat. But in reality, it is just a fermented form of a milk product made from the liquid left after churning butter from cream.
The latest variety of buttermilk is devoid of any butter and is rather cultured milk stored and sold in bottles. The commercially produced buttermilk of today is made by adding bacteria culture to processed whole milk.
After undergoing fermentation for some hours, stabilizers, sugar and salt are added to it. As a result, the new variety is much tangier, thicker and acidic in comparison to the traditional one. It is thus considered a highly enjoyable drink by many people.
Furthermore, the milk is a great source of vitamins and calcium and can be consumed regularly. ‘Good’ lactic acid bacteria present in buttermilk helps in improving the body immunity. Besides, it also has other holistic health benefits such as improvement in digestion and betterment of gut health.
Moreover, buttermilk is also widely used in different food recipes. It gives meat preparations a melt-in-the-mouth characteristic and changes baked foods into moist and springy confections.
Low fat milk
This type of milk may be confused with reduced fat-milk or 2% milk, but, in reality, they are different. While the latter has 2% of fats, low fat milk consists of only one percent of fats.
Centrifugation of this milk during its processing separates much of the cream and fat globules from it and makes it thinner. The milk also attains an opaque white shade.
The exceptionally low fat content of this kind makes it ideal for all who regularly monitor their weight. Besides, a very low calorie content and high amounts of vitamins further enhance the nutritive value of the milk.
Consuming low fat milk aso keeps the amount of saturated fats in the body under control, which in turn helps to contain cholesterol levels. The milk also contains vitamin D that is known for promoting bone health.
You will often find this milk being added to skim-milk powder, which boosts levels of calcium and protein in it. Adding low fat milk also makes the skim milk creamier. The milk is applied in a variety of food recipes such as desserts, milkshakes with less calories and puddings.
With the rising popularity of dairy-free products, cashew milk has become one of the most preferred options. This type is much sweeter and creamier than other dairy-free milk products.
Also, cashew milk is different from other nut-sourced milk types in that it has zero pulp. Thus, it doesn’t require any straining and consumers get the much sought-after creamy deliciousness.
Due to its creamy and rich texture, cashew milk is an ideal ingredient to include in smoothies. It can also be used in many other foods such as baked products and cold or hot cereal meals.
Cashew milk is quite low in saturated fat and calories but is rather a good source of polyunsaturated fats, vitamin K and vitamin B. The vitamin K content makes cashew milk useful for bone-building and bone density maintenance.
An amazing health benefit of cashew milk is that it helps in weight management. Those of you who are struggling to maintain your weight can benefit considerably from including this milk in your diet. Although cashews have some amount of fat, they also contain useful minerals which help in reversing weight gain.
Organic milk is obtained from cows but is different from the conventional milk in three basic ways. First of all, the cows which produce this kind of milk are not treated with any antibiotic. Secondly, the cows are not injected with any hormone for growth or reproduction. Finally, at least 30 percent of the diet of these cows consists of pasture.
These differences may seem negligible to many, but believe us when we say, they do make a large difference! Moreover, these are the minimum requirements for raising the cows.
Many diaries go beyond these requirements, giving cows much more time in the pasture and plenty of nutrient-rich grass. These practices further enhance the quality of their milk.
Thus, when you get organic milk, you can be assured that it is free of the bovine growth hormone (rBST) given to cows in conventional dairy farms. By choosing this kind of milk over the others, you can receive the benefits from its nutrients without being exposed to chemical contaminants.
Several research studies have concluded that organic milk has a higher nutritional value than the conventional cow milk. It has been found to have more healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than the conventional type.
Kefir is a fermented milk with a taste similar to that of thin drinkable yogurt. The sour tanginess in the taste results from the yeasts and bacteria using up the sugar for fuel. This milk can be prepared from cow, sheep or goat milk.
Kefir has been a popular milk type in Central Asia and Eastern Europe for centuries. People from these regions have long considered it to be associated with good health. Polish kefir is a popular variety of kefir usually available in all Eastern European shops.
Cow milk is predominantly used for preparing kefirs, but people who are allergic to cow milk prefer the variety made with goat milk. Kefirs contain high amounts of beneficial yeast and probiotic bacteria and are rich in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D and B12.
Kefir has shown to be immensely beneficial to humans in many ways. It has been found to improve the functioning of the digestive system.
Fasting blood glucose levels have also been reduced in those who consumed this milk on a daily basis. Furthermore, it has also found to be helpful in maintaining oral hygiene and preventing tooth decay.
Though it is especially a favorite among kids and toddlers, there is nobody who does not love flavored milk! This immensely popular kind of milk is in effect a sweetened drink consisting of sugar, milk, and natural or artificial food colors.
Interestingly, this milk is the most popular in the Southern and Western parts of Australia. So much so, that an article by the Sunday Times in 2013 reported Western Australia as the “flavored milk capital of Australia”. Chocolate milk is the most popular flavored milk, though many other varieties are available including banana milk, strawberry milk, and lots of others.
Similar to other types, this milk contains high amounts of all beneficial nutrients such as potassium, vitamin D, and calcium. Research has revealed that children drinking flavored milk actually consume more milk, resulting in healthier dietary systems.
Furthermore, this milk also contains more muscle-building proteins than any juice or soda and is thus a much healthier option. Minerals and vitamins in the milk aid in building as well as repairing muscles, also making it an ideal beverage post your workout session.
The milk has also been found to have a longer shelf life compared to many other types. Its pasteurization by the use of an Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) treatment makes this possible.
Many of you might have hazelnuts included in your diet. But have you ever thought of including hazelnut milk? It has a range of health benefits too and is a great cow milk alternative to go for. Turkey provides the bulk of worldwide production of the nut, seconded by Italy.
Beside being fit for daily consumption, hazelnut milk is also often applied in desserts and other sweet dishes. Gourmets take pleasure in using this milk powder in place of other types, for the sweet taste coupled with the health benefits.
The proteins contained in this milk are more digestible than those in any type of animal milk. Thus, it is ideal for anyone who has difficulty in digesting animal milk. Besides, the high calcium and phosphorus content in the milk makes it a great food in the growing period for adolescents and children.
Hazelnut milk also contains dietary fiber and essential fatty acids, which help in normalizing bowel movements and building body cells, respectively. Furthermore, this milk is also recommended for pregnant ladies as folic acid present in it prevents the risk of malformation in the fetus.
The only drawback of this milk is its high price in the market compared to other plant-based types, which limits the reach among common people to some extent.
Most of the plant-based milk types that you will find in the market are nut-sourced, for instance, soy milk, cashew milk or almond milk. But lately, even seeds are being tapped into by manufacturers to bring many more healthy milk alternatives to dairy-sourced milk. One such milk type is flaxseed milk.
Flaxseed milk is prepared by adding cold-pressed oil from flaxseeds to filtered water or by blending flaxseeds with water at a high speed for quite a few minutes.
The process is repeated to the powdered flax seeds are fully integrated with water and attain a milky feel. Finally, the liquid is passed through a sieve to remove any fibrous residue.
Flaxseed milk or flax milk, as it is better known, is low in calories as well as fats. The milk is also free of cholesterol or lactose, making it an ideal choice for heart-health maintenance. Lactose intolerant people can include this milk type in their diet as well.
The highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are also found in this milk. These fatty acids have been proved effective in preventing many diseases such as diabetes, heart strokes and even cancer.
The immense nutritional value of milk makes it the most popularly consumed drink worldwide.
A daily diet plan without milk just doesn’t seem right! Moreover, with lots of healthier options available nowadays, you also don’t have to worry about putting on weight or consuming more carbs.
You just have to choose the right milk type, which we hope, will now be a lot easier. Just consider your health priorities and a bit of your taste and preferences, and you can zero in on the ideal milk type. So, go ahead and make your choice.
We’ll sign off now. Eat healthy, stay healthy!