In terms of health benefits, there is little evidence to say that raw milk is much better than processed. The calcium, vitamins, and proteins contained in milk are not harmed by the pasteurization process. The only great advantage of raw milk that has been scientifically proven is reduced effect on those with allergies and asthma, though some claim there to be other advantages. Regarding the treatment of the cows producing the milk, those producing raw milk are likely to be treated better and injected with fewer hormones, if any.
Some say raw milk is more natural and contains more nutrients, as the processing of milk destroys nutritional value. However, this is considered a myth by the FDA pasteurization is considered one of the great developments of the industrial age, as it kills microbes in milk that could potentially carry disease. Raw milk poses a serious threat to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. There is really nothing to get by drinking raw milk that you cannot get in processed milk except sick.
If you are looking for a healthy milk, try a processsed milk from an organic farm.
I think the primary reason that people want to drink raw milk, is similar to the reasons they want to eat organic foods. The nutrition is the same for pasteurized milk as raw, but what is different is that most commercial milk is taken from Holstein cows which were bred specifically to produce more milk than previous dairy cows, then they are treated with antibiotics and some are treated with Bovine Growth Hormones. Many people do not want to consume these things with their milk.
Pasteurization does kill microbes in milk that are a very real threat to health. Some argue against this, that when cows are not raised in such unhygenic ways as they are now, on feedlots etc.- there is not as great a need for pasteurization and antibiotic treatments. Having said that – pasteurization was originally used to controlled bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis as they could not be tested for back in the 1800’s, and it is used now to kill E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Raw milk is not considered safe for children or pregnant women, however, people in many other countries do consume raw milk and cheeses.
One of the primary concerns with pasteurization is that it kills not only the harmful bacteria, but also the healthy proteins and the friendly bacteria and enzymes contained in raw milk that allow your body to more easily digest milk and absorb the nutrients, as well as strengthen the immune system.
Pasteurization is hailed as one of the greatest public health developments of the 20th century, but raw milk advocates feel that the circumstances that made pasteurization necessary are no longer risk factors as we can now test for the diseases that made pasteurization necessary.
Advocates of raw milk explain that it is a complete food that contains essential protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, cholesterol, and beneficial bacteria. They say that pasteurization isn’t necessary when milk is produced from organic grass-fed cows in a sterile environment, and that pasteurizaton breaks down and removes some of the vitamins, beneficial bacteria, and amino acids found in raw milk. People who are committed to sustaining a completely natural, raw diet enjoy raw milk because it doesn’t contain hormones found in some pasteurized milk from large farms. There is still some concern for the safety of raw milk, but when it is produced under sanitary conditions, as most raw milk is, it is deemed safe to drink.
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