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Good Question: What Makes Types Of Milk Different From One Another?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Milk lovers seem to have their preference. Skim, 1 percent, 2 percent or whole, they are committed to one of those but rarely more than one. Those four types of milk all come from the same cow, so what makes them different from each other? Good Question

Actually, all four types of milk have the same vitamins and minerals. The difference is fat and calories. Debra Sheats is a professor of nutrition at St. Catherine University.

"So skim milk would have a trace of fat in eight ounces or one cup," she said. "And whole milk would have 8 grams of fat in the same 8 ounces."

At milk processing plants, centrifugation separates fat from milk. If all fat is removed, then it becomes fat free or skim milk. The plant operators can also add some fat back in to create 1 percent, 2 percent and whole milk which is 3.25 percent. Even though whole milk has the most fat, Sheats said children under the age of 2 need it.

"They actually need the fat for their brain and nervous system," she said.

As we get older though, Sheats said skim milk may be a better option.

"I recommend it. It's probably the healthiest of those if you look at the fat and calories," she said.

And if you aren't lactose intolerant and don't have a milk allergy, she even recommends skim milk over almond, soy, and rice milk.

"Actually, those sources tend to be lower in protein. They don't have all the same vitamins and minerals and they aren't as balanced," she said.

Sheats said when it comes to milk, cows are king. They're easy to manage and they produce the most gallons. Even though a lot of other animals like goats, camels and even yaks are milk producers.

By the way -- if you are a calorie counter, one cup of skim milk has about 90 calories and a cup of whole milk has about 150 calories.

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