What Is Raw Milk Good For?
Cow’s milk is one of the most popular foods around the world, thanks to its versatility. It’s used to make products such as cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream. It can even be enjoyed by itself for a refreshing afternoon drink, or blended with fruits to create smoothies.
However, chances are the milk you’ve been drinking throughout your life is pasteurized, which can be detrimental to your health. That’s because pasteurized milk comes from cows raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which is the perfect breeding ground for foodborne illnesses.
Instead, why not make the switch to raw, unpasteurized milk? It is far more superior to commercially manufactured milk not just in taste, but in nutrients as well.
Raw Milk Benefits You Should Know
There are many reasons why you should drink raw, unpasteurized milk instead of the pasteurized variety. It has been found to be a quality source of:
- Proteins: The majority of milk proteins are made of casein, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure1 and increase the absorption of minerals.2
- Probiotics: Raw milk is rich in healthy bacteria that can benefit your digestive system.
- Enzymes: Raw milk contains various enzymes that can help improve the digestion of nutrients from other foods.
- Omega-3: Research has discovered that raw milk contains 62 percent more omega-3 fats and 25 percent fewer omega-6 fats compared to conventional milk.3
- Calcium: Milk is one of the most well-known sources of calcium, a mineral that can help promote stronger bones and teeth. Furthermore, calcium from cow’s milk is easily absorbed by your body.4
- Assorted vitamins and minerals: Raw milk contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, along with minerals such magnesium, phosphorus and iron, all of which can help enhance your health.
The Difference Between Raw Milk and Pasteurized Milk
Raw, unpasteurized milk is essentially produced from cows that are raised in an open pasture, free from herbicides and other toxic chemicals that can negatively affect the final product. That being said, the appearance of grass fed organic milk is quite different — it usually has a yellowish color, not the pure white look that most people are familiar with. That’s because the coloration comes from the carotenoids in the grass that cows eat. In contrast, a white color typically means that the cows were fed with dried grass or hay, which translates to lower amounts of carotenoids and other nutrients.
On the other hand, pasteurized milk means that the liquid has undergone pasteurization, a heating process named after Louis Pasteur. While working as a professor and dean at the University of Lille in 1862, he spent his free time figuring out how to prevent alcoholic beverages from turning sour due to the invasion of bacteria. Eventually, his experiments were a success and the method was adopted to fit the milk industry.5
In theory, pasteurization may seem beneficial, but it actually reduces the quality of milk. The heat transforms the structure of the milk proteins to a shape your body is not able to process. It also destroys the naturally occurring probiotics that can benefit your digestive system. As a result, this creates a blank slate where harmful bacteria can proliferate, turning the milk sour and causing digestive problems when consumed.
Nutrition Facts About Raw Milk
Aside from the benefits mentioned earlier, raw milk contains other nutrients that can help improve your overall health. The table below provides a good overview of raw milk’s nutritional profile:6
|Mineral Content per quart (Typical range):||Vitamin Content per quart (Approximate):|
|Sodium: 330 to 850 mg||A: 375 mcg|
|Potassium: 1,040 to 1,600 mg||C: 19 mg|
|Chloride: 850 to 1,040 mg||D: 38 IUs|
|Calcium: 1,040 to 1,225 mg||E: 940 mcg|
|Magnesium: 85 to 130 mg||K: 7 mcg|
|Phosphorus: 850 to 940 mg||B1: 25 mcg|
|Iron: 280 to 570 mcg||B2: 650 mcg|
|Zinc: 1,880 to 5, 660 mcg||Niacin: 850 mcg|
|Copper: 95 to 570 mcg||B: 470 mcg|
|Manganese: 19 to 47 mcg||Pantothenic acid: 3,300 mcg|
|Iodine: 245 mcg||Biotin: 33 mcg|
|Fluoride: 28 to 207 mcg||Folic acid: 2 mcg|
|Selenium: 4.7 to 63 mcg||B12: 4.25 mcg|
|Cobalt: 0.47 to 1.23 mcg|
|Chromium: 7.5 to 12.3 mcg|
|Molybdenum: 17 to 113 mcg|
|Nickel: 0.1 to 47 mcg|
|Silicon: 700 to 6,600 mcg|
|Vanadium: Trace elements to 290 mcg|
|Tin: 38 to 470 mcg|
A Guide on Where to Buy Raw Milk
One of the best ways to guarantee you’re buying high-quality raw milk is to simply head to a local organic farm that specializes in this product. If possible, meet with the owners of the farm to get an idea on how their milk is produced. Here are a few guide questions to help you determine if the milk comes from healthy cows:
✓Does the farmer and his entire family drink the milk themselves?
✓Does the farmer test his milk for pathogens, and can he prove that his product has a low pathogenic population?
✓Are the cows fed with natural grass on a pasture? If not, what are they feeding the cows?
✓How long has the farmer been in business producing raw milk?
✓What conditions are the cows raised in? Do they look healthy?
✓Is the farm accredited with sanitation standards? In a related note, does the farm have a history of sanitation problems?
✓Is the milk quickly chilled after collecting?
✓Are cows given antibiotics and growth hormones? (Remember, organic standards do not allow this practice.)
Frequently Asked Questions About Raw Milk
Q: Is raw milk safe to drink?
A: Contrary to the reports that say raw milk can make you sick, it is safe to drink. The important thing to consider here is the quality of the product and how it’s made. The cow needs to be healthy and organically raised in a pasture to help minimize the amount of toxic herbicides and pesticides. This helps lower the risks associated with drinking raw milk.
Q: How long does raw milk last?
A: Raw milk can last anywhere between seven to 10 days, but it must be kept at an optimal temperature of 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 to 3.3 degrees Celsius). If the temperature goes higher than the recommended range, the naturally occurring Lactobacilli will start producing lactic acid faster, resulting in a sour flavor until the milk becomes spoiled.7
Q: Can you freeze raw milk to prolong its lifespan?
A: Yes, it’s completely safe to place raw milk in the freezer to prolong its shelf life. In an experiment performed by Dr. Weston A. Price, he tested frozen butter after a year in storage and found no deterioration in quality.8
If you plan to store raw milk for a long time, be sure to give the container a good shake to distribute the cream evenly, and keep the lid open to prevent the buildup of pressure.9
- 1 Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2010 May;50(5):390-402
- 2 Journal of Dairy Science, 2013 Oct;96(10):6127-46
- 3 PLOS One, 2013 Dec 9;8(12):e82429
- 4 The British Journal of Nutrition, 2002 May;87 Suppl. 2:S169-77
- 5 Biography, “Louis Pasteur”
- 6 Raw-Milk-Facts.com, “What’s in Raw Milk?”
- 7 Raw-Milk-Facts.com, “Raw Milk FAQ”
- 8 The Weston A. Price Foundation, “FAQ — Dairy”
- 9 The Healthy Home Economist, “Freezing Milk (And Other Fresh Dairy Tips)” December 23, 2016