When you go shopping and you pass by the aisle with milk in it, there’s a good chance that you have seen all of the various types of milk there are. Between the milk alternatives that people enjoy to the numerous types of standard cow’s milk, you might wonder what some of these different milks are.
Most milk alternatives are pretty clear about what they are, such as what alternative they are making use of to produce the milk-like drink that people can enjoy without worry, but when looking at the cow’s milk, you might feel a little bit more lost.
Most of the common types of milk you will find will fall under 1% milk, 2% milk, whole milk, and skim milk, leaving you to really wonder what is in the other 98% of milk, if what you are getting is 2% milk.
The first thing to understand here is that the percentages are not mentioning the amount of milk in the bottle. The entire container is milk, the percentages refer to the amount of fat in the milk for people who want to make sure that they only take in the right amount of fat for their diets.
To fully understand this, you first have to understand what is in your relatively unaltered whole milk, and from there, you can begin to get a firmer idea of what is in the other forms of milk and what exactly makes them different than your 2% milk.
The Percentages on Milk
The percentages that you see on your milk containers refer to the amount of fat that the milk has for the weight of milk, and not the amount of fat per serving. For example, when you purchase 2% milk, then 98% of the milk is made up of the milk proteins, lactose, and other components of milk, while 2% of it is made up of milk fat.
The same concept applies to both 1% milk and skim milk. One percent milk follows the exact same rule and is 1% milkfat by weight with the rest of the container being the components of milk, or in other words, half the fat content of 2% milk, and skim milk is milk that has been “skimmed” to be completely fat free while still containing many of the nutrients that whole milk has.
Additionally, there are the numbers to look at. Two percent milk, in an eight-ounce glass, will have the same eight grams of protein that all of the rest of the milk will have for the same amount of liquid, but the fat content will be different.
Instead of having eight grams of fat to go with the eight grams of protein, it will have about five grams of fat, and likewise, 1% milk will have about 2.5 grams of fat per eight-ounce glass, and skim milk will ideally have no fat.
Comparing Whole Milk to the Rest of the Milks
Whole milk is generally regarded as the most natural milk that you can purchase and it is generally not altered that much. People who are concerned about the fat content in their milk often worry that whole milk has a significant amount of fat in it, and while whole milk certainly does have fat in it, it is not quite as much as you might imagine.
With whole milk being the standard of cow’s milk, it actually only has about 3.25% fat compared to the rest of the milk, though this varies depending on the cow that it came from.
Some cow’s milk can be closer to 4% milkfat and the most fat-heavy milk tends to sit around 6%. For the sake of ease, this can be averaged out to be about 4% milkfat, or about double what reduced-fat milk has in it.
People tend to say that whole milk has so much more fat in it, that it is so much more unhealthy for you than 2% milk, and while comparatively it is double the amount of fat in the milk going by the composition, it is still only a meager portion of the milk.
Whole milk typically comes out to being about eight grams of fat for an eight-ounce container of milk that has all of its nutrients in there, and even some of the good types of fat that your body can benefit from.
Whole milk is still healthy for you, but if you need that lower fat alternative, simply keep in mind that on average, reduced fat milk (2%) tends to be half of the fat content as whole milk, and low-fat milk (1%) will be about half that, with skim milk being at the bottom and having almost no fat in it, as there may be some traces left.
What’s in the Rest of Milk?
Now that you know that the percentages only refer to the amount of milkfat in your milk going by the weight of it, you might be left still wondering what exactly makes up the rest of the milk in the container.
Milk isn’t as much of a clear-cut liquid like water is, where people know the exact molecule that goes into it and can get a sense of whether or not it has minerals in it.
Milk is a bit more intricate than that, as it is made up of a few different components. For the most part, milk is mostly water, but not in the sense that the drink itself has been watered down.
It simply means that, as with many liquids in the world, milk is made up of a significant portion of water in the same way that the human body is about 70% water and that watermelons are a good 80% water. Milk is a liquid, so it would only make sense that it is also water-based.
Aside from the water content, milk also carries milk proteins in it, which is one of the many things that makes milk the healthy and strengthening drink that it is for people to enjoy. Scientifically speaking, milk proteins are a combination of about 20% whey and about 80% casein, both of which play a role in calcium absorption in your body, which is why milk is so highly attributed to a good calcium intake.
Milk also has a considerable amount of nutrients and vitamins in it, which also play a large role in making it the healthy starting drink of the mornings that it is known for. Some of these include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A and B12, and riboflavin.
All of these help to boost your body and help it to work the way that it should. Milk is also well-known for having lactose in it. Lactose is a type of sugar molecule and it helps to give milk the creamy taste that people enjoy as well, and it is made up of two simpler sugar molecules with those being glucose and galactose.
All of these are what make up the other components in milk besides the fat content, and almost all of these are important for your bodily functions. This is also what makes whole milk such an important healthy drink for you to have in your day.
If you are watching your fat intake, although milkfat does have the healthy fats in it that help your body function at its best, you can opt for all the different kinds of milk that you can find on the shelves, ranging from reduced fat to low-fat to completely fat-free milk, with all of them making use of the base nutrients that come in whole milk, keeping your body healthy and strong.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.