Milk, known as melk in Dutch and milch in German, is a nutritious white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. Milk generally contains; proteins, lipids, lactose, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and some other constituents. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. This includes humans and it is done through breastfeeding; a process in which a young mammals sucks milk from the nipple. The first type of milk or Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother’s antibodies to its young and can reduce the risk of many diseases.

Through analyzing degraded fats on unearthed potshards, scientists have discovered that Neolithic farmers in Britain and Northern Europe may have been among the first to begin milking cattle for human consumption. The dairying activities of these European farmers may have begun as early as 6,000 years ago.

As a product, milk is extracted from non-human mammals during or soon after pregnancy. Dairy farms produced about 730 million tonnes of milk from 260 million dairy cows in 2011, India is the world’s largest producer of milk and more than six billion people consume milk and milk products throughout the world.

Animal milk for human consumption is gotten from cow, buffalo, goat and sheep and from minor species of animals which are; yak, mithun, musk ox, mare, donkey, dromedary and Bactrian camels, llama, alpaca, reindeer and moose. Cow milk accounted for 83% of global milk production in 2010 and it contains more protein and minerals more than the others. The high protein content of cow milk is one reason why unmodified cow milk is not recommended for infants less than 12 months old.

Milk is considered to be the only foodstuff that contains approximately all different substances known to be essential for human nutrition. In terms of cancer risk, dairy foods have been reported as both protective and occasionally as harmful although the proven health benefits of dairy foods greatly outweigh the unproven harm. Dairy foods should be encouraged as part of a varied and nutritious diet as they are essential to maintain good bone and dental health, to prevent osteoporosis, major cardiovascular disease risk factors, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndromes, as well as some cancers. The Cancer Council and USDA recommend 3 servings of milk and milk products daily for anyone above 2years of age.

Classification of milk

Milk can be classified according to its fat content, for example as whole milk, skimmed milk, semi-skimmed milk, low-fat milk and standardized milk. And physical form example liquid milk and powdered milk.

  • Liquid milk or whole fresh refers to raw milk from any animal containing all its constituents and milk that is not concentrated, pasteurized, sterilized or other-wise preserved, homogenized or peptonized.
  • Skimmed milk (also known as “fat free” or “non-fat” milk) Milk from which most of the fat has been removed contains reduced amounts of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin A, compared with whole milk.
  • Standardized milk is one in which the fat content is adjusted to a predetermined value without altering any other constituents. Standardizing is usually carried out either by incomplete skimming of whole milk to remove part of the fat, or by mixing the whole milk with skimmed milk.
  • Fortified milk can be enriched with various compounds to increase the intake of particular micronutrients, for example vitamins A, D and C and iron.  This milk serves as a vector of supplements: that can improve nutritional quality and prevent chronic degenerative diseases.
  • Dehydrated milk products (Evaporated milk)  is milk and cream from which the water has been partly removed and which has been heat- treated (sterilized) to render it bacteriologically safe and stable it is made from whole or skimmed milk.
  • Condensed milk is a type of from which water has been partly removed after heat-treating but not sterilized and preserved with its high concentration of sugar. It is made from whole or skimmed milk.
  • Dried or Powdered milk is produced by evaporating the water from the milk using heat. It is made from whole or skimmed milk.
  • Reconstituted milk is obtained by adding water, fat, etc. to milk powder.

Milk products

  1. Buttermilk, curdled, acidified milk
  2. Yoghurt: A fermented milk food. May be plain or include additives such as sugar, flavouring materials, fruit or cocoa
  3. Cheese: Curd of milk that has been coagulated and separated from whey
  4. Butter: Emulsion of milk fat and water that is obtained by churning cream.
  5. Ghee: Butter from which the water has been removed. Very common in hot countries.
  6. fresh Cream: That portion of milk which is rich in milk fat and is separated by skimming or centrifuging
  7. Whey: The liquid part of the milk that remains after the separation of curd in cheese making.
  8. Lactose (milk sugar): Produced commercially from whey. Other products produced from whey include whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate.
  9. Casein :The main protein constituent of milk obtained by precipitation (curdling) skimmed milk with acids or rennet

Nutritional benefits of milk

Milk is an extremely beneficial drink for the health of the human body. And so it can be called a life-giving nectar

  1. Healthy bone and teeth: milk supplies calcium to our body which protects the body from major chronic ailments such as cancer, bone loss, arthritic conditions, migraine headaches, pre-menstrual syndrome, and obesity in children. And it is also an essential mineral in the creation of bone matter, and bone mineral so, it helps children and youngsters to attain excellent dental health
  2. Healthy Heart: By reducing blood pressure, increasing blood flow to vital organs, and reduces the stress on the heart and cardiovascular system
  3. Rehydration: as it contains water needed for rehydrating the body.
  4. Improves Skin health: milk is a good moisturizer, the milk solids nourish and smooth your skin and the lactic acid present in milk is known to aid in removing dead skin cells, thereby rejuvenating skin and keeping it fresh.
  5. Balances the acidity of the body.
  6. It helps to eliminate free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that are partially responsible for premature aging of the skin, resulting in wrinkles and age spots.

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