A Family’s Guide to Buying Milk

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We know the commercial tag line “Milk Does a Body Good” but with more than an estimated 70% of adults world wide experiencing some degree of lactose intolerance, milk from dairy cows is not necessarily the best option for most people. While water is the only macronutrient that we actually need to drink, there are many other “milk” options awaiting our taste buds in the grocery store isles. It is important to have a wide variety of high quality foods in our diets. This is not an endorsement of any product, rather a buyer’s guide to some milk products.

Milk (Miriam Webster Dictionary):
1 a: a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young ; especially : cow’s milk used as a food by humans b: LACTATION <cows in milk>2: a liquid resembling milk in appearance: as a: the latex of a plant b: the juice of a coconut composed of liquid endosperm c: the contents of an unripe kernel of grain

Milk straight from source, unprocessed (except filtration), cooled and bottled. In dairy, it’s milk straight from the cows or goat. According to the Raw Milk Association, CReMA, people with lactose intolerance can often consume milk in its raw form because it contains the enzymes necessary to break down the lactose in the digestive tract. These beneficial enzymes are killed in the pasteurization process.

Pasteurized/ Ultra Pasteurized
The process of heating milk using a scale of time and temperature in order to kill potentially harmful bacteria. There are two widely used types of pasteurization in cow and goat milks:  High Temperature Short Time (HTST) and Ultra Pasteurization (UP). HTST produces milk with a shelf life of 14 to 17 days. Due to the extremely high temperature, UP commercially sterilizes milk and typically yields a shelf life of 60 days. It is important to note that all milk, if handled and stored properly, will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days once opened.

Homogenization is the blending of the butter fat into the lower fat milk and is used to give a smooth and consistent texture.

Many food products, including dairy and nut milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, and vitamins A, B and D.

Cow’s Milk
Depending on the state, cow’s milk can be purchased raw, High Temperature Short Time Pasteurized or Ultra Pasteurized. Milk from cows will naturally separate, with the butter fat or cream rising to the top, leaving a naturally lower fat milk on the bottom. Because consumers prefer a consistent texture, cow’s milk is almost always homogenized. Whole fat cow’s milk is naturally high in fat soluble vitamin A and calcium and low in vitamin D for which it is often fortified.

Goat Milk
Except for in the United States, goat milk is widely consumed around the globe. It is easier to digest and higher in calcium. Like cows milk, goat’s milk is typically pasteurized stateside. The fat globules are smaller which causes them to be dispersed naturally and therefore does not need to be homogenized. Goat milk does not contain the casein, a protein found in cow’s milk, which is often the source of dairy allergies. It does, however, contain lactose although because it’s easy to digest it can be consumed by some with lactose intolerance.

Soy Milk
Soy products are everywhere these days. The benefits of soy are touted in commercials and it is marketed as a dairy substitute. The problem with soy milk and other flavored and sweetened milks is the amount of sugar added to these so-called health promoting drinks. It’s important to note that 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon, and that sugar can add up quickly. It’s best to consume unsweetened soy milk.

Nut and Grain Milks
Nut and grain milks such as those made from Almond, Oat, Hemp and Rice are also an available source of lactose-and casein-free dairy substitutes. As with soy milk, consumers need to be aware of added sweeteners that can negate the nutritional value of these nut and grain milks.








Murray, Michael, MD. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Atria Books, New York, 2005.  Page 370.

Contributor Info:

Amanda is a regular guest speaker at local businesses, schools, churches, and women’s groups. She can often be found in the halls of the California State Capitol advocating for nutrition and food. Amanda has been featured in both local and national media as an expert in the field of food and nutrition. Eat Your Roots is also dedicated to working with individuals, couples, and families to improve overall wellbeing by teaching clients to understand real food and Traditional Nutrition.

Amanda is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP http://www.nanp.org), and Chairs their Legislative Affairs Committee. Visit www.eatyourroots.org and www.mydailydiner.com.

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2 Comments for “A Family’s Guide to Buying Milk”

  • Good guide!

    Todd D.


  • Harriette jaffeNo Gravatar

    I found your guide, truthful, and yes, I do practice a lot of what you have put in your guide. I have also been making a lot of my own soup, with not salt, and i do not cook with salt or any preservatives at all. Thank you , mambo sprouts for being the company that I knew you were.

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