Is Milk Food or Drink? Here is What You Should Know

Since ancient times, human beings have consumed milk as part of their diet, so the answer to the question Is milk food or drink? seems simple. However, when you look deeper at what exactly milk consists of, you will see that it is more difficult to define than first appears. 

For example, it contains carbs, usually considered food but not drink; many people also consider it both a solid and a liquid depending on how much water it contains. Each glass of milk contains nine nutrients, making it a nutrient-rich food.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), milk and other products made from it are classified as beverages, because they lack essential nutrients found in different types of foods. 

However, if you ask someone with lactose intolerance, they’ll tell you that milk is not a beverage — it’s food! Who’s right and who’s wrong? Let’s decide, keep reading.

Is Milk a Food or a Drink?

People have debated whether milk is a food product or more of a drink. The answer to is milk a food product? Or, better yet, is milk even food at all? We will find out if it makes sense to call milk a food item.

There are many arguments in either direction, but first, we need to define our terms…so let’s do that now!

What is Food, and What is a Drink?

To begin with, there are two main categories: solid foods and liquid foods.

●   Solid Foods

Solid foods can be further divided into subcategories like fruits, 

vegetables, meat/fish/poultry/eggs, grains (bread), legumes (beans), etc. 

●   Liquid Foods

On the other hand, liquids can be categorized as drinks (coffee/teas) or beverages (juices). 

●   So, Is Milk Food Or Drink?

Most people would agree that milk fits into both categories as solid food and also as a beverage. So then why does anyone care about calling milk food or not? It seems like semantics, right? But actually, it’s pretty essential because certain things can be said about nutrition, and certain items cannot be said about drinks. 

For example, you could say I’m going to eat something, or I’m going to drink something, but you couldn’t know I’m going to eat nothing because nothing is considered food by most people. However, you could easily say I will drink nothing since nothing is regarded as a beverage. 

Another thing you could never say is I drank some water since water isn’t a beverage; it’s simply H2O. You might hear someone say I drank some juice, but they wouldn’t know I drank some water. Now, back to our original question: Is milk food or a drink? Well, it depends on who you ask. 

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If you ask nutritionists and dietitians, they’ll tell you that milk is indeed classified as a foodstuff. They’d explain that although milk has many similarities to drinks such as coffee and tea, it has enough differences to make its classification as a food reasonable. 

For instance, unlike coffee and tea, which are made from plants (caffeine-containing leaves and flowers), milk comes from animals, making it different from drinks in one significant way: Fat content. As opposed to plant-based beverages, which contain no fat whatsoever, cow’s milk contains 3% fat. 

This means that drinking a glass of whole milk provides you with 3 grams of fat, whereas drinking a cup of black coffee gives you zero grams of fat. Of course, when you consume any dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), you’re getting extra calories from saturated fats, which may or may not be suitable for your health, depending on how much of these types of foods you consume. 

In addition to having a higher fat content than drinks like coffee and tea, milk also differs from them in another important aspect: Its lactose content. Lactose is a type of sugar found only in animal products such as eggs and dairy products. So, we can say that milk is a food product.

How Much Do We Really Need it? (Milk)

A typical serving of milk is 8 ounces, which is quite a lot. You might drink a glass at every meal and use it to make your morning cereal; you might even dip cookies in it. It’s hard to imagine life without it—and that’s because we’ve all been told we need it. 

The Question is: How much do we need? And what are some good alternatives? 

To answer these questions, let’s look at what milk is and why we should be drinking it. After all, if we’re spending money on food, shouldn’t it be something we need? We’ll start with nutrition facts: What exactly does milk provide us with? 

On average, a cup of cow’s milk provides between 300-500 calories (depending on fat content) but also contains anywhere from 3-6 grams of protein and around 10% of our daily calcium intake. If you add cream or other dairy products to your coffee or tea, that number can quickly jump higher. 

Is there anything wrong with getting our nutrients from dairy products? 

Not. Dietitians recommend them to most people, especially those who don’t consume enough calcium through their diet alone. 

But is milk an essential part of everyone’s diet? 

No. And here’s why.

#1 – Body’s Design

Our bodies aren’t designed to process large amounts of dairy products very well. For example, lactose intolerance affects up to 65% of adults worldwide, making it one of Earth’s most common genetic disorders. And that’s just one example out of many.

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#2 – Alternative Sources

We have plenty of great alternative sources for calcium and other essential nutrients like vitamin D. Some examples include broccoli, kale, spinach, almonds, oranges, and salmon. 

So what about vitamins B12 and D? 

Unfortunately, they’re only found naturally in animal products like fish, eggs, and meat. However, they can be supplemented by taking a high-quality multivitamin once daily. 

So what should you do if you want to avoid dairy? 

Here are two suggestions: 

First, try eliminating it for 30 days and see how you feel. If you notice any adverse side effects, you know it isn’t suitable for your body. 

Second, replace cow’s milk with almond milk instead—it tastes similar and has many of the same benefits. Overall, my advice is to eat whole foods whenever possible and limit processed foods.

What Are the Benefits of Drinking Milk?

●   Strengthen Your Bones

Drinking milk is an excellent way to get bone-strengthening calcium into your diet. If you’re a child, a teenager, or a woman (or man) who hasn’t reached menopause and is older than 65, dairy products are crucial to helping build and maintain healthy bones. Milk and milk products are also considered essential for helping prevent osteoporosis later in life. 

●   Nutrients

The other benefits of drinking milk, such as providing essential nutrients for growth and development. As mentioned above, milk’s calcium content is one of its most significant benefits. 

●   Calcium

The average 8-ounce glass of whole milk provides 30 percent of your daily value for calcium; 2 percent reduced-fat milk provides about 20 percent; 1 percent low-fat milk provides about 15 percent, and nonfat/skimmed milk provides around 10 percent. 

●   Potassium

Another benefit of drinking milk is its potassium content. An 8-ounce glass of skim milk provides 14 percent of your daily value for potassium, while whole milk and 2 percent reduced-fat milk each provide 11 percent. 

●  Vitamins

Other vital vitamins found in milk include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid, B6, folate, and biotin. Each provides at least 10 percent of your daily value when consumed by itself. Other benefits of drinking milk include bone health, weight management, and heart health. 

What Are Some of the Risks Associated with Drinking Milk? Especially in Excess

●   Causes Iron Deficiency

While it’s generally safe to drink milk as part of a balanced diet, some risks are associated with drinking too much. Excessive consumption of cow’s milk can cause iron deficiency anemia because cow’s milk contains little iron compared to other foods. 

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●   Vitamin D deficiency

It can also lead to vitamin D deficiency if you don’t consume enough fortified foods like cereals or take supplements that contain vitamin D. Research has demonstrated a clear link between drinking large amounts of milk and a higher risk of fractures, especially in women. 

●  Weak Bones

One study published in The British Medical Journal reviewed data from nearly 50,000 women and found that those who drank three or more glasses of milk per day were significantly more likely to suffer broken bones over 11 years than women who drank little to no milk. 

The researchers speculate a connection between calcium (plentiful in dairy products) and increased bone fragility. However, they did not find that calcium consumption from non-dairy sources was associated with fracture risk. 

This suggests that it’s not simply a matter of getting enough calcium—it’s about how you get your daily dose. Dairy products also contain high levels of lactose, which can cause digestive problems for many people when consumed in excess.

Processed vs. Natural Dairy Products (Food)

Many of us are under a false impression that milk is just milk. We may have heard of skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk, but what about processed dairy products like cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream? 

These are also dairy products and contain calcium. The difference is that they have added thickeners or flavors to give them a different texture or taste. 

Processed Dairy

Processed dairy foods tend to be higher in fat than natural dairy foods because they contain higher amounts of butterfat. 

Natural Dairy

Natural dairy foods, on the other hand, such as plain yogurt or cottage cheese, contain less fat. 

Although all types of dairy can help you meet your daily calcium needs and are an essential part of a healthy diet (see below), it’s best to choose low-fat versions whenever possible. This will reduce your saturated fats and calorie intake without sacrificing any nutritional value. 

Keep in mind that some cheeses contain lower amounts of calcium than others. For example, most cheddar cheeses provide 300 mg per serving; mozzarella and Swiss provide 200 mg per serving; parmesan offers 450 mg per serving, and feta provides only 100 mg per serving.

Last Word on This Topic

Scientists estimate that humans have been consuming milk for almost 10,000 years. Well, the answer to that question Is milk food or drink? It depends on who you ask!