Nutrition Facts & Benefits of Raw Milk

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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You have likely heard of raw milk before, but there aren’t many people who regularly drink it. Raw milk aids in keeping strong bones, skin care, weight loss, & digestion. It is unpasteurized milk, the process in which it is heated to kill bacteria. However, there are some interesting nutritional and health benefits that make raw milk worth investigating if you are trying to maintain a more natural and holistic diet.

What is Raw Milk?

For thousands of years, when humans consumed the raw milk of various animals, such as cows and goats, there was no additional treating or processing to make it any healthier. Raw milk, therefore, is milk that is unpasteurized – the process in which it is heated to kill the majority of bacteria. When this bacteria is neutralized, it prevents the milk from going sour, which is important if you are planning to store it for an extended period of time.

Due to the fact that this milk has not undergone any pasteurization or homogenization processes, it is considered a “complete” food and retains all of its natural enzymes, fats, and nutrients. While there are certain health concerns with drinking unpasteurized milk, taking the proper precautions and being aware of the risks can make this quite a healthy choice, particularly for people that have livestock, but lack access to processing facilities.

Nutrition Facts of Raw Milk

Raw (unpasteurized) milk being poured from a milk can into a barrel

Raw milk or unpasteurized milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Raw milk is packed with key nutrients that are beneficial to the body, including probiotics, raw fats, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, carotenoids, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin K, and a number of digestive enzymes.

Benefits of Raw Milk

The best-unpasteurized milk health benefits include its ability to reduce allergic reactions, improve the health of the skin, strengthen the immune system, boost digestive health, prevent certain types of cancer, promote weight loss and increase bone density, among others.

Skin Care

With a good amount of carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids, raw milk can help to boost the appearance of your skin by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which can minimize the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes.

Aids in Digestion

Probiotics found in untreated milk can help optimize the bacterial balance in your gut, while the many digestive enzymes in this beverage can improve your nutrient uptake efficiency.

Anticancer Potential

The conjugated linoleic acid found in this type of milk has been directly linked to various anti-cancer activities in the body.

Weight Loss

The density of nutrients and minerals, particularly calcium, in this milk make it an ideal complement to a weight loss diet, as your body won’t be experiencing any lack of nutrients.

Improves Bone Density

Unpasteurized milk is perfect for boosting bone mineral density as it is packed with minerals and other digestive enzymes.

Allergic Reactions

Research has shown that this milk can optimize the immune system and reduce the severity of allergic reactions throughout the body.

Raw Milk Uses

Some of the most popular uses of unpasteurized milk include drinking it by itself, producing farmer’s cheese, boosting the health of your garden (as a fertilizer), or even making yogurt. This form of milk is best used quickly, as it will begin to sour as the bacteria present in it begins to produce waste. However, the density of nutrients makes it an ideal ingredient in various culinary and home care practices, and its health benefits are undeniable.

Difference: Raw Milk & Pasteurized Milk

The difference between raw milk and pasteurized milk is quite simple; unpasteurized milk has not undergone any pasteurization or homogenization processes. Pasteurized milk has been heated to a certain temperature (at least 160 degrees for 15 seconds) to eliminate any bacterial elements that could cause illness or sour the milk. While raw milk may have a higher bacterial level than pasteurized milk, it also contains certain enzymes and nutrients that may be lost during the pasteurization process.

Raw Milk Risks

There are a few risks inherent in raw milk, as that of foodborne illnesses. Without the pasteurization process, the raw milk may contain bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, which can cause significant gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. There have been roughly 1,000 cases of illnesses directly linked to drinking raw milk in the past 20 years, but there have been no reported deaths.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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