The Benefits of Milk

The Benefits of Milk

Milk is considered as a complete and ideal food and it contains most of the proximate principles of a well balanced diet. Milk of various mammals is used for food but cow's milk is being used throughout out the world for feeding infants and as a supplement to the diets of the children and adults. The other animal's milk used are buffalo, goat, sheep, and camels. This nutrient packed drink is given to patient even during critical stage. Various milk products such as curd, butter milk, ghee, cheese, paneer, khoya, rabri etc are used commonly in our food preparations. This time tested nutritious drink is been criticised by few vocal people to the extent that milk is equated to poison.

Nutritive value of milk

Calories and protein
Cow's milk provides 67kcl and buffalo milk provides 117kcl of energy per 100 ml. The protein content of cows and buffalo milk is about 3.2gm and 4.25gm per 100ml respectively. The milk proteins mainly consist of casein (about 80%) and whey (about 20 %). The proteins of milk are of a high biological value. The limiting factor of milk is that it lacks sulphur containing amino acids as compared to egg proteins.

In cows milk Casein combined with calcium exists in milk in colloidal form and this is known as caseinogen. Fermentation of milk or the addition of rennet leads to precipitation of insoluble calcium caseinate curds. There is a higher proportion of calcium and casein in animal milk and hence the curds are harder and more difficult to digest than human milk.

Cow's milk contains practically half the fat content of buffalo milk. Fat is in the form of glycerides in emulsified form which can be separated by allowing milk to stand for some time after boiling, the fat rises to the surface as cream. In diaries the fat is separated by centrifugation. Two third of fat in milk is saturated and one third is unsaturated. The fat of cow's or buffalo milk is poor source of essential fatty acids.

The main sugar present in milk is lactose. It is less sweet than cane sugar. The lactose contents of cow's and buffalo milk vary from 4.5 to 4.9%. The intestinal enzyme lactase digests lactose. Cells situated at the tip of intestinal villi produce the lactase. These cells get damaged early during a bout of diarrhoea especially in younger children. This result in lactose intolerance resulting in acidic diarrhoea usually associated with redness of perianal region. Lactase deficient patients may tolerate milk with cereals or cooked as custard better than liquid milk.

Lactose is easily fermented by lactic acid bacilli and is used to produce fermented milk that can be kept for longer period than fresh milk and imparts various flavours to milk products. Lactose favours the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and the synthesis of some B complex vitamins in the small intestine.

Milk has got valuable amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid but is a poor source of vitamin C and E. It also contain vitamin B12 which is absent in vegetarian food items.

The important minerals of milk are calcium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium. It is a poor source of iron. An infants diet must be supplemented with iron rich foods at an early age to prevent anaemia.

Milk contains about 85% water. It thus supplies both food and fluid.