Is Raw Milk Good for You?

What are the benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #112

The scientific method was designed to counter these all-too-human tendencies. Anecdotal reports often suggest that something’s worth researching further. But the way we calculate the probability of certain results, control for variables, and evaluate the placebo response is to conduct controlled trials.

What is the Scientific Evidence for Raw Milk?

Unfortunately, we don’t have much in the way of controlled trials for raw milk versus pasteurized milk.  At this point, the only claim for raw milk that’s been scientifically validated is that children who drink unpasteurized milk are somewhat less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma. However, the authors of this study concluded that the benefits do not appear to be substantial enough to justify the increased risk of foodborne illness that comes with drinking raw milk

And that’s just the thing: When it comes to the placebo effect, as long as it’s harmless, I’m all for it! If lying with your head pointed north helps you sleep better, I say: Go for it! But in the case of raw milk, you really need to weigh the possibility of benefits against the risks. To refresh your memory about what those risks are, refer to the first part of this series: Is Raw Milk Safe?

As I said in that article, I’m not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t drink raw milk. But I do want you to have an accurate understanding of both the risks and the potential benefits. And because young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised health or immunity are at much higher risk of serious, even fatal infections, I believe that people in those categories should err on side of caution and stick to pasteurized dairy products.

Does Raw Milk Taste Better?

Finally, many people feel that raw milk simply tastes better. I believe it! Raw milk is probably fresher. It may be higher in fat. It’s usually unhomogenized. All of these things could improve the flavor of the milk. However, it is possible to buy fresh, unskimmed, unhomogenized milk—direct from the farmer in those attractive glass bottles—and still have the security of pasteurization.  You can go to localharvest.org to search for dairy farmers that sell direct to consumers in your location.

Dairy Chemistry and Physics (University of Guelph)
Nutrition Information for Milk (NutritionData.com)
Image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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