Milk isn’t really the most controversial of foods, although when asked if people prefer processed or unprocessed milk, everyone seems to have an opinion, although most people agree that the health benefits of unprocessed or “Raw” milk outweigh that of processed milk.
Namely, this is because of the array of different methods that the milk has to go through when it is being processed, particularly with focus on the pasteurisation of the milk.
Before even getting to the supermarket shelves, processed milk has been through cooling, testing, pasteurisation, homogenisation, separation and micro filtering, processes and, in some cases ultra-pasteurisation.
The testing is put in place to test the milk fat content, protein content, cell count and bacteria content of the milk, and if it doesn’t pass the accepted levels of each criteria at this point it never goes into production.
With the pasteurisation, the milk is heated and then cooled again, ultra-pasteurisation and micro filtering taking place after this where the milk is heated to an extreme temperature, and in relation to homogenisation, the milk is pushed through an atomiser which forces the milk fat content to be dispersed throughout the milk so that a thick layer doesn’t form on top.
After it has undergone all of these various processes, the milk is then chilled in fridges until use, many arguing that there is little goodness left in the milk itself after undergoing so many changes and that the cooking and heating of the milk destroys much of the nutritional value that we still place upon it.
This argument could be important, as studies have shown that raw milk can actually strengthen the immune system, and after it has been processed, if the heating and cooking of the milk destroys or lessens the nutritional value, then the benefits to the immune system are decreased.
Of course, it is important to note that the condition of the cows and what they are fed on is equally as important as how it is processed by us.
The production of healthy milk by cows relies heavily on nutritional feeding, good living conditions and health of the cow, however, lots of cows are being fed artificial feed, hormones and antibiotics.
This doesn’t always lessen the nutritional value of the milk, however it may not be as natural as you think.
As always, it is important to make informed decisions as to what you put in your body, and although processed milk may have less nutritional value than unprocessed milk, there are lots of other things that you should think about!