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The Advantages of Fresh Milk

By Jan Annigan

Fresh milk provides you with several benefits. Although it requires refrigeration to keep it safe for drinking, fresh milk retains its natural flavor, unlike powdered milk or canned milk that can develop a cooked flavor upon processing. Fresh milk also contributes fluid to your diet to help keep you hydrated, and it supplies you with both macronutrients and micronutrients to support optimal health.

Protein

The protein in your diet supplies you with amino acids, small biological molecules that join together in a variety of configurations to create new proteins as your body needs them. Although you can synthesize 11 of the 20 amino acids found in food proteins, you lack the ability to manufacture the other nine. These so-called essential amino acids must come from your diet. The protein in milk is considered a complete or high-quality protein, as it contains all the essential amino acids, and 1 cup of fresh milk gives you 8 grams of complete protein. You need protein in your diet each day to repair injuries, manufacture antibodies, build muscle and maintain a healthy blood supply.

Minerals

Fresh milk is rich in both calcium and phosphorus, with 1 cup delivering 30 percent of your recommended daily intake for both these minerals. Calcium and phosphorus work together to create bone tissue and provide structural integrity to your skeletal system. In addition, calcium functions as an electrolyte that assists in contracting your muscles and transmitting nerve impulses, while phosphorus works to help you derive energy from the foods you consume.

Vitamins

Commonly supplemented with vitamins A and D, fresh milk offers 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively, of your daily need of these fat-soluble vitamins for each cup you drink. It also adds several B vitamins to your diet, including 50 percent of the vitamin B-12, 38 percent of the riboflavin and 17 percent of the pantothenic acid you require each day. Vitamin A supports healthy skin and eye tissue, vitamin D helps you use your dietary calcium, and B vitamins help you metabolize the proteins, carbohydrates and fats you eat.

Sugar

Fresh milk provides carbohydrates to your diet in the form of sugars, the bulk of which is lactose. Your body prefers carbohydrates as its energy source because all your cells can readily use it without the need for prior processing, as can be the case with fats and proteins. Additionally, your brain and kidneys require sugars to function properly. A 1-cup serving of fresh milk contributes 12 grams of sugar to your diet. One caveat of fresh milk concerns its high lactose content, however. If you are lactose intolerant -- that is, if you lack the digestive enzyme lactase -- the lactose in milk can cause digestive upset. In this case, the sugar content of fresh milk is a disadvantage rather than an advantage.

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