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Milk is the first food/beverage we all began with. Then, some went on sodas, others on water, high caffeine content drinks, juices, alcohol and other types of beverages. Our parents gave us milk when we needed it or when they did not understand why we had to scream so loudly and, supposedly, milk was the only answer to our problems. We all shared milk and cookies with classmates and friends during our play-dates, we drank it when we were sad, melancholic, sleepless, tired, without ideas, plans B and hopes. Milk was like a magic potion with the power of calming, relaxing us. A magic sponge that wiped our worries out and fixed everything.

Got insomnia? Drink a cup of hot milk! Got anxiety? Get a cup! Got sadness or loneliness? Again, get a cup! Got the flu or a cold? Get a cup! You only need to drink a cup of hot milk before going to sleep and…..tatatatata…..the magic is completed! For some reasons, probably unconsciously related to our childhood, milk clears out our mind, relaxes us and makes everything simpler. But, in order for the magic to be completed, you have to believe that you’ll succeed: believe in the power of milk.

Having said that, have you ever noticed how big has become the “milk section” in the grocery store? In the last years, food industries have introduced numerous and varied types of milk, from the classic milk powder to the Australian lime flavored milk. If you pay attention and look carefully through the shelves, you will be ale to find: whole milk, skimmed milk, 1%fat milk, 2% fat milk, organic milk, goat’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, UHT (ultra heat treated) milk, flavored milk (chocolate, strawberries and vanilla are the most popular tastes), milk with Omega 3, milk with more calcium, grass milk, milk with fibers, lactose free milk, and probably much more products.

A simple action as buying the milk has become a complex and stimulating mission. You start to wonder when all of this differentiation in products began and how we managed in the past. It’s logical that food companies create new products to gain more customers and try to offer as many milk (or milk related) products as possible. However, I guess that, sometimes people miss the milkman who delivered to their doorsteps the only one type of milk available in the market. But since we all have different preferences and tastes, this huge and varied offer has become the normality; different products to satisfy different people, different supplies to fulfill different demands.

Do you spend too much time at the grocery wondering what types of milk you need to buy for breakfast? Are you confused between 1% fat milk and skimmed milk? Curious to know what grass milk is? Here, you find a little explanation!

Whole milk: no constituents have been removed; it has high content of saturated fat (3.5%) and sugars.

1% and 2% fat milk: contain 1% or 2% of saturated fat.

Skimmed milk: low content in saturated fat (average 0,1%) and cholesterol. It has almost all the fat removed.

Organic milk: produced with cows fed organic feed (no hormones, no antibiotics). Again, here you will be able to find all the different products (whole, skimmed, 1% 2% low fat etc).

Goat’s milk: high content in saturated fat, it can be an alternative for “milk sensitive people”.

Soy milk: made from soybeans. Low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It does not contain lactose. This product is usually consumed by vegans and vegetarians.

Almond milk: made from almonds. It does not contain lactose and cholesterol. Generally flavors and sugars are added. However, it is also possible to buy the unsweetened one. Good for vegans and vegetarians. It can be plain or with different flavors.

Rice milk (or rice drink, depending on the country where you live in): made from brown rice. It does not contain lactose and cholesterol but it has a high content of carbohydrates. Used by vegans, lactose intolerant and soy allergic people. It can be flavored.

Oat milk (or grain milk): made from pre-soaked oats. It does not contain lactose and cholesterol. It has a low content of saturated fat and proteins, and a high content of carbohydrates. It is low in calcium but there are available (of course!) the added formula.

Coconut milk: made from coconut. It has an high content of saturated fat.

UHT milk: ultra-heat treated milk in order to maintain its characteristics for a longer period of time.

Grass milk: made from cows fed only with fresh grasses and forages. (I don’t know what to say on this!!)

Omega 3/ calcium/ fiber milks: all made with addition of these ingredients.

Flavored milk: high content of sugars, colorings and natural OR artificial flavorings. Popular among the young generations, served in the majority of the American schools’ cafeterias instead of regular milk.

These are the main types of milk, but everyday some food companies develop a new product in order to satisfy the always numerous (really?) customers’ requests. I don’t know why but to me, the less ingredients a food label has, the better the food is. When I buy a beverage/food like milk, I prefer the simpler formula with no additions. We all have become used to new and richer flavors, but maybe the “plainer” a food is, the healthier it is for us.

Less ingredients = less additions, less food processing, less standardization of the tastes and, especially, less new terminology to learn, less questions to ask (and then to whom?), and less artificial-chemical added components. We just need a little bit of  “good judgment” and the time to read the label!

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