Milk – The Whole Food: Boon or Bane?

Milk – It is the most abundantly available and a thoroughly enjoyed food, consumed worldwide. We’ve all grown up hearing this age old adage of milk being the “complete food”. Many a times, whenever we were hungry as kids, our parents made us a mug of hot chocolate or Bournvita with milk to satisfy our hunger pangs. Even today, as adults, our world revolves around milk – coffee, tea, cereal, milkshakes, yogurt, curd, cheese, etc.

But have you ever stopped and wondered if, what is so widely accepted, is right too? Tickles your brain, isn’t it? Today, let’s explore this “White World” and understand the health benefits and disadvantages of milk better.

What exactly is in my Milk?


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Let’s talk about the one considered the healthiest and widely consumed – Cow Milk.

It is considered a whole food. It provides 18 out of 22 essential nutrients. It contains more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and protein per calorie than any other food in a typical diet:

Nutrient Amount per 244 g Percentage of Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)
Calcium 276 mg 28%
Folate  12 mcg  3%
Magnesium 24 mg  7%
Phosphorus 205 mg  24%
Potassium 322 mg  10%
Vitamin A 112 mcg 15%
Vitamin B-12 1.10 mcg  18%
Zinc  0.90 mg  11%
Protein 6 to 7 g (casein and whey) 14%

It also provides: 

  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Niacin
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin

Advantages of Milk:

  • Appetite control

Dairy helps people feel fuller and reduce how much fat they ate overall. It can help satiate your hunger due to its high protein content, along with contributing a low level of calories.

  • Bone development

Perhaps the most renowned benefit of drinking milk is to maintain your bone health. Milk helps improve weight and bone density in children. It also reduces the risk of childhood fractures. 

  • Bone and Dental Health

A glass of milk contains calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and magnesium. These minerals are important for healthy bones and teeth. Milk may also help prevent cavities. Research showed that getting more dairy, calcium, and vitamin D helped reduce dental plaque in older adults.

  • Diabetes prevention

Type 2 diabetes affects how your body burns food for energy. Diabetes can also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Several studies have found that whey protein in milk may help prevent type 2 diabetes in adults. This may be because milk proteins improve your blood sugar balance.

  • Heart health

Milk fat may help raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol. It helps prevent heart disease and stroke. Additionally, milk is a good source of potassium. This mineral helps balance blood pressure.

Disadvantages of Milk

  • Acne

A study found that teenagers with acne drank higher amounts of low-fat or skim milk. Adult acne may also be triggered by dairy. Other studies linked this skin condition to skim and low-fat milk, but not to whole milk or cheese. This may be due to carbohydrates and whey protein in milk.

  • Allergies

It can cause skin reactions, such as eczema, and gut symptoms like colic, constipation, and diarrhoea. Other serious reactions include: 

  • anaphylaxis
  • wheezing 
  • difficulty breathing
  • bloody stool

Children may grow out of a milk allergy. Adults can also develop a milk allergy. Antibiotics given to dairy cows may also be linked to milk allergies.

  • Bone fractures

Drinking three or more glasses of milk a day may increase the risk of bone fractures in women. Research found that this may be due to sugars called lactose and galactose in milk.

Another study showed that bone fractures in elderly adults due to osteoporosis are highest in areas that consume more dairy, animal protein, and calcium. 

  • Cancers

Excess calcium from milk and other foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Milk sugars may be linked to a slightly higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Milk from cows given growth hormones contains higher levels of a chemical that may increase the risk of some cancers.

  • Lactose intolerance

Cow’s milk has a higher amount of lactose than milk from other animals. Up to 75 percent of the world’s population has some form of lactose intolerance, estimates a 2015 review. Most people with this condition can safely add small amounts dairy to their diet.

Healthier Alternatives to Milk:

Since the negative effects of milk far outweigh the benefits of milk, it is only advisable that we look out for healthier alternatives. While the benefits derived from milk can also be taken from other sources without such greater risks, these alternatives help with some similar benefits while perfectly substituting milk in all the recipes.

Type Pros  Cons 
Soy milk Contains similar amount of proteins; Half the carbs and fats Contains plant estrogens and hormones
Almond milk Low fat; High calcium; High vitamin E Low protein; Contains phytic acid (hinders mineral absorption)
Coconut milk Low calories; Low carbohydrates; Half the fat No protein; High saturated fats
Oat milk Lower in fat; High fiber High carbohydrates; Low protein
Cashew milk Low calories and fat Low protein; Fewer nutrients
Hemp milk Low calories; Low carbohydrates; High essential fatty acids Low protein
Rice milk Low fat Low protein; High carbohydrates; Low nutrients
Quinoa milk Low fat; Low calories; Low carbohydrates Low protein

With all the information available with you now, hope you make the right choices and opt for the smartest option. Do consult with your doctor before making a major switch. If there are any other queries, drop a comment below and I will be happy to help you out.

Drink Smart. Stay Healthy.



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8 thoughts on “Milk – The Whole Food: Boon or Bane?

  1. Very true! Totally agree about cow’s milk… My son needs to be on a gluten free and casein free diet so we try to give him instead almond and pistachio milk. Use coconut milk also to substitute cooking with cow’s milk.
    Well researched and well-written article!


  2. Pingback: Milk – Not your Child’s Best Friend – Sculptasse

  3. Thanks for writing this article Shivani.. as I requested you .. Thoroughly researched like all your articles… Keep going

    Can we trust tetra packs for soy, almond etc milks. As I won’t have time to make it myself. Also do write about tetra packing of milks and other stuffs to Increase shelf life.. Is our body at any risk if we consume tetra packed milk, buttermilk, shakes etc

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for all this good information. I’ve also heard from my doctor that drinking too much milk can be a contributing cause of irritable bowel syndrome. Have you, or has anybody here, heard this?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: What is the need to go completely with Organic food? | Sculptasse

  6. Pingback: What is Vitamin B12 and what does it do? | Sculptasse

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