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Is Raw Milk Good for You?

What are the benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
October 25, 2010
Episode #112

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Is Raw Milk Good for You?

This is the second of a two-part article looking at the pros and cons of drinking raw, unpasteurized milk. In the first part, I discussed the risks of drinking raw milk. In this article, I’ll take a look at the possible benefits.

Is Raw Milk Healthier?

Raw milk proponents point out that raw milk contains nutrients, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and other compounds that are denatured or destroyed by pasteurization. That’s true. All food processing involves some nutrient loss. As I pointed out in my episode on raw food diets, even storage can decrease the nutritional value of foods.

See: What are the benefits of a raw food diet?

So the question is not whether raw milk is different than pasteurized milk; it clearly is. The question is whether these differences have a significant impact on your health. And that’s not as clear.

Does Raw Milk Contain Beneficial Bacteria?

Let’s start with the beneficial bacteria. Foods containing friendly, lactobacillus bacteria are definitely good for you. (See: Fermented and Cultured Foods) But you’ll get far more beneficial bacteria from eating yogurt or drinking kefir than you would from drinking raw milk.   

Is Raw Milk More Nutritious?

Most of the evidence for the benefits of drinking raw dairy is anecdotal.

But what about vitamins and minerals? Below, I’ve included a chart that compares the amount of various vitamins and minerals in raw and pasteurized milk. As you can see, there is very little difference in the amount of B vitamins, folic acid, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, or zinc. In fact, pasteurized milk is generally much higher in vitamins A and D than raw milk, but that’s only because it is usually fortified with these nutrients. 

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