As we all are aware, milk is the basis of any and all dairy products. Besides this, milk itself is a wonderful and nutritious drink. Milk has a rich content of superior variety protein and is also the finest source of calcium. Additionally, milk also encloses vitamins A and D, several B vitamins, magnesium and phosphorus. Over several centuries, people believed whole milk (milk from which no constituent, including fat, has been removed) to be a standard of healthy nutrition as well as essential food for healthy children. Milk used to be one drink that the adults were persuaded to continue consuming even after they had crossed their childhood.
However, even to this date, the consumption of whole milk is on the decline and, instead, skimmed milk and milk low in fat content has been gaining recognition. As a result, presently, more people consume these two varieties of milk compared to whole milk. Happily enough, even when the fat content of milk is taken away, it does not lose its other nutritious constituents or any of its basic properties. Perhaps the most important constituent of milk is calcium and even today milk happens to be a major source of this vital mineral. Calcium is equally important for children and adults, as it helps in bone formation and the human body is constantly replacing bone throughout an individual's entire existence. While calcium is present in several other foods, especially green leafy vegetables, its presence in milk is said to be the most exploitable form. Consuming only two cups of skimmed milk every day supplies 75 per cent of the adults' Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for calcium for below 200 calories. In addition, phosphorus, which is present in reasonable quantities in milk, is another valuable constituent of this nutritious food. In fact, phosphorus works in combination with calcium to build bone in our body.
Similar to meat, milk also offers superior quality protein. Additionally, the protein present in milk is finely balanced in the composition of its amino acid. Nevertheless, different from the protein present in meat, the protein found in skimmed milk and low fat milk is not accompanied by fat. In fact, milk contains a high proportion of amino acid lysine, which is found in restricted amounts in foods obtained from plants, especially grains. This virtue, in fact, makes milk a perfect balance for bread, cereals and other grain food products. For an average man, consumption of two cups of milk supplies 27 per cent of the RDA for protein, while the RDA for protein for average women from the same amount of milk is even higher - around 33 per cent.
It may be mentioned here that the FDA has made it mandatory to fortify skimmed milk as well as low-fat milk with vitamin A. This is primarily owing to the fact that vitamin A is soluble in fat and much of it is lost from milk when the fat content is taken away. In addition, all varieties of milk are strengthened with vitamin D, a natural constituent of milk found in very small quantities. In fact, shortage of vitamin D may obstruct the body's capacity to soak up calcium and result in rickets, an ailment that is distinguished by the deformity of bone. In fact, this disease has distressed numerous children during the early part of the 20th century. If you closely observe the milk cartons, you will find that the terms 'homogenized' and 'pasteurized' are quite common on them. Pasteurization is a process whereby milk is heated to a great temperature to eliminate bacteria, which are responsible for several diseases, molds and yeasts. In effect, when milk is not pasteurized or raw, it is considered to be a precarious food. But when milk is pasteurized, it guarantees that the food is safe for consumption. In addition, the process of pasteurization also augments the shelf life of packaged milk. What is important is that pasteurization does not have any significant effect on the dietary assets of milk.
On the other hand, homogenization is a process where fat content in the milk is uniformly dispensed all over the milk. When we look for packaged skimmed milk or low-fat milk we presume that the milk has undergone both the processes and is safe for consumption. Although the process of homogenization had been developed way back in 1900, usually most of the milk that people received from the stores or households was actually not homogenized till the 1950s. This could be ascertained from the fact that the milk supplied to people in those days had a thin creamy sheet on the top of every bottle. People either skimmed off the cream from the milk and utilized it discretely or shook the bottle thoroughly to blend the cream with the milk again.
Presently, just about all types of liquid milk passed through the homogenization process. In order to homogenize liquid milk it is forced through a small aperture under a great pressure. This process disintegrates the fat contained in milk into such minuscule units that they continue to be blended in the milk instead of floating on the top.
It may be noted that lactose is another ingredient of milk and for a number of people this is a hindrance rather than being an advantage. In fact, lactose comprises two chemically blended sugars - glucose and galactose. Several people are unable to digest little more than a small amount of milk as they suffer from insufficiency of lactase - an enzyme produced in the intestine that disintegrates lactose into its basic constituent sugars to make them absorbable by the body. During infancy, the human body produces the maximum amount of lactase because during this stage of life milk is essential for survival. Gradually, as a person grows, the production of lactase also declines. People who suffer from lactase deficiency usually cannot consume milk or dairy products without having symptoms, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and even cramps. In fact, about five to ten per cent of the Americans who have their origins in northern Europe suffer from lactase deficiency that makes it difficult for them to ingest lactose. However, lactose intolerance is more common among the Asians, Blacks, a number of Mediterranean and Hispanic peoples as well as the Native Americans.
Despite this, there are millions of people worldwide who are fond of milk and other dairy products and intend to keep on take pleasure in these foods all through their lives. In fact, majority of the people who cannot tolerate lactose are still able to consume a minimum of a few dairy products not individually, but as a component of their meals. There are several other lactose-intolerant people who are even able to consume a full glass of milk with their meals. People who are lactose-intolerant find it much easier to absorb yogurt and buttermilk that are considered to be refined dairy products. They are also able to digest cheese easily as it contains a very small amount of lactose, which is removed during the process to make cheese. Nevertheless, lactose is present in considerable amounts in liquid, evaporated, powdered and condensed milk.
There are different varieties of milk and cream enclosing dissimilar amounts of fat. Some of the types of milk and cream have a number of elements added or removed, while there are others that have been given flavor to allure different kinds of tastes. While most milk is sold fresh for consumption in a short while, some varieties of dairy products are processed and packed in order to enhance their shelf life. These types of milk products can be used whenever necessary, especially during any emergency.
Milk solids, comprising milk protein, minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, and often fat, but never water, are available in the market and may be used to homogenize the milk solid content of milk obtained from various sources. These milk solids not only contribute protein to any form of milk, but also provide the body, opacity as well as taste to skimmed milk and low-fat milk. In addition, milk is generally evaluated on the basis of its superiority and the proposed usage.
Specialty milks are a type of milk where elements are added or removed with a view to cater to the specific health requirements of individuals as well as satiate the taste buds of some others. This type of milk is especially made by the dairies and supplied according to demand. For example, keeping in view the widespread lactose-intolerance among a vast majority of the Americans, the dairies have started offering milk that has reduced lactose content. On the other hand, the increasing consciousness among people regarding osteoporosis and other bone-related ailments has encouraged the dairies to introduce special milks that have rich calcium content. Similarly, buttermilk too contains much less fat that it used to have earlier. However, the fact is that though buttermilk has lost its popularity as a drink over the years, it is presently widely used in culinary.
In addition to the above mentioned forms of milk, there are several other varieties of this natural food that are especially meant to prolong its shelf life and made available whenever necessary for use. For instance, the canned, dried or paper/ pulp packaged, commonly known as 'boxed' milk varieties are specially treated so that they may remain on your kitchen shelf for several months and be of emergency use when you run short of your regular milk supply and also when it is a problem to rush to the store. In addition, a number of of these milk products are distinctive as they not only possess special virtues, but are also useful in culinary. Hence, many people do not use these products just as an emergency supply of fresh milk, but regularly use them as ingredients in their cooking. For instance, one can use evaporated skimmed milk for whipping to prepare a heavy, but fatless topping that possesses just around 10 per cent of the calories present in whipped rich cream.