Differences Between Milks
Most milk products in the United States go through a pasteurization process that removes harmful bacteria. However, in states that permit the sale of raw, unprocessed milk, it is available for purchase from local dairies. The differences between milks can be immense, though some prefer the taste of raw milk, studies have not proven that it is more nutritious than pasteurized milk, and consuming raw milk does come with risks.
The American Association of Pediatrics has recently issued a warning against young children or expectant moms consuming raw milk or dairy products make from raw milk. If the raw milk is contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. Coli, consuming it could cause a serious illness. Cow’s milk provides protein, calcium, and vitamin D, and your child should have about 2 to 3 servings of milk or other dairy products each day. If raw milk is not safe for young children, what type of pasteurized milk should they drink? Babies under the age of 12 months should not consume cow’s milk. Their digestive systems are not developed enough to handle the lactose, plus milk is missing essential nutrients found in breast milk or formula. Once your baby is a year old, you may introduce him to whole milk. Young toddlers need the fat in whole milk to support brain development, until about age 2. At this age, you can switch your child to 1 or 2 percent milk. Many parents prefer buy organic milk for their kids. Organic milk is pasteurized, but the cows were not treated with synthetic growth hormone or antibiotics and feed on pesticide-free grass. If your child is allergic to cow’s milk or just won’t drink it, his doctor may recommend giving him soy milk or almond milk. Soy milk contains less protein than cow’s milk but it is low in fat and cholesterol-free.
Finding out your child is allergic to cow’s milk, is lactose intolerant, or just does not like cow’s milk can mean searching for a substitute to take its place in your child’s diet. Here are some of the cow’s milk alternatives and how they measure up nutritionally to cow’s milk.
Soy milk is made by mixing the extract of mature soy beans with water and a natural sweetener. Soy milk is plant based, so it has less protein than cow’s milk, but it is low in fat and cholesterol. Soy milk contains heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. However, it is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, so select soy milk that is fortified. If your child is at risk for allergies, check with his doctor first before introducing soy milk, since it is possible to be allergic to it.
Almond milk is made by mixing ground-up roasted almonds, water, and a sweetener. Almond milk has very little protein but it does contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is full of vitamins and mineral and is almost on par with cow’s milk in this area. Almond milk is less starchy than soy milk and therefore it has fewer calories. It has a rich, nutty taste and is perfect to serve with cereal. You should not give almond milk to a child who is allergic to tree nuts or peaches.
Rice milk is a good alternative for those allergic to cow’s milk, soy beans, and tree nuts. It is low in fat and in calories. However rice milk is a poor source of needed vitamins and minerals, so only buy rice milk that is fortified. Rice milk is not recommended for children under the age of 4 1/2 due to the presence of amounts of arsenic in rice milk that exceeds the acceptable exposure limits for that age group.