Tempo de Leitura: 2 minutos

What is it?

Milk is a secretion produced by the mammary glands of an animal and is characterized by its whitish coloration and the constitution of different nutrients, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, minerals and vitamins.

Nutritional composition of milk

Cow’s milk is a product composed of several types of molecules and is presented in 3 types: whole milk (minimum 3%), semi-skimmed (0.6-2.9%) and skimmed (maximum 0.5%), with the difference between them being the percentage of fat. Milk is composed mostly of water (86-88%) and also presents proteins, glycids (especially lactose) and micronutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A,D, E and K, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Is cow’s milk good for health?

Currently, the idea that cow’s milk could have inflammatory potential even for individuals without allergies or intolerances is widespread, and is then in the genesis of several problems. However, when looking at serious evidence as meta-analyses, it is found that the consumption of milk and dairy products are associated with favorable health outcomes, among which it is possible to mention:

  • Reduction of the risk of childhood obesity;
  • Improve body composition in adults;
  • Facilitates weight loss during caloric restriction;
  • Neutral or reduced risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke;
  • Beneficial effect on bone mineral density, but not associated with the risk of bone fracture;
  • Among cancers, milk and dairy intake was inversely associated with colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, gastric cancer and breast cancer, and not associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer or lung cancer, while evidence of prostate cancer risk was inconsistent.

Lactose intolerance

However, some people have lactose intolerance (sugar present in milk), a condition characterized by an inability to digest significant amounts of lactose due to an inadequate amount of the lactase enzyme. In patients with intolerance it is possible to observe symptoms such as abdominal pain and distension, excessive flatulence and watery stools after ingestion of lactose-containing foods.

In addition, there are different degrees of lactose intolerance, including in the mildest individuals the individual tolerates intake of moderate amounts of lactose without presenting symptoms. Therefore, for these individuals, the treatment is to remove lactose from the diet, and in some cases lighter, lactase enzyme supplements may be helpful. It is also important to take care of the amount of calcium ingested, since milk and dairy products are some of the largest sources of this micronutrient found in food.


Reading suggestion:
Lactose intolerance: nutritional management

Thorning TK, Raben A, Tholstrup T, Soedamah-Muthu SS, Givens I, Astrup A. Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence. Food Nutr Res. 2016;60:32527. Published 2016 Nov 22. doi:10.3402/fnr.v60.32527

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