The first thing most of us consume in the morning is either a glass of milk or a cup of coffee/tea. Many people even end their day with a warm glass of milk as it is said to induce good sleep. So it is safe to say that milk is one of the essential products in our daily lives. Milk and other dairy products are used in India vastly and play an important role in our daily nutrition intake.
People living in villages or outskirts of the cities own cows and goats. They get fresh milk and use it to prepare all the dairy products that they need and even run a small business catering to the neighborhood. The dairy industry is now huge in India and there are many dairy companies ruling the market. Let us look at the importance dairy plays in our country.
Facts About Milk and Dairy Products:
- While cow milk is the most commonly consumed milk worldwide, the other animals’ milk that human beings consume are – goat, sheep, water buffalo, donkey, camel, horse, yak, reindeer, and even pig and giraffe.
- In India currently – the most consumed are buffalo’s milk, cow’s milk, and goat’s milk in that order.
- Buffalo milk contains almost twice the fat content found in cow’s milk. Hence it is harder to digest.
- In India, dairy usage can be dated 8000 years back with the domestication of zebu cattle.
- Milk also holds a religious importance in Indian culture, as milk and milk-based products(mainly ghee, curd, buttermilk, and butter) are offered to Hindu Gods for abhisekha.
- While cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, buffaloes are considered to be on the negative end as they are Lord Yama’s vessel. So in temples, the milk and milk products used in the sacred rituals are from cows.
- Payasam/Kheer are offered in temples to the visitors as prasadh. They are made from cow’s milk.
- India has been the largest milk producer in the world since 1997. It is also the world’s largest consumer.
- The festival Pongal/Sankranti/Lohri celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra is a harvest festival which is to show gratitude to every element involved in agriculture. Hence, one day (Maatu Pongal in TN) is dedicated exclusively to the cows, where they are bathed, decorated, and worshipped akin to God.
- A recent study by the National Dairy Development Board shows that the consumption of milk and curd is higher in South India than in the North.
- Punjab and Haryana have the highest availability of milk per capita.
- Milk also has been used in Ayurveda, as it has sedative and digestive properties.
- Recently, there has been an increase in the usage of crossbred cows and buffaloes for milk and dairy products.
- Dairy Products include Curd, Buttermilk, Butter, Ghee(clarified butter), Cheese, Paneer, and Cream.
- Milk is also processed and made into skimmed milk, milk powder, and condensed milk.
- Ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, puddings, cheesecakes, Indian milk/ghee sweets, shrikandh, phirnee – there are many uses for milk and milk-based products found in the desserts market.
Health Benefits of Milk and Dairy Products:
Milk and milk products are widely known to be good resources of protein and calcium, thus the marketing has been targeted towards kids (protein-rich source for growing taller and stronger) and women (for necessary calcium intake to avoid bone-related issues in old age). Dairy products contain a wide plethora of nutrients other than these two nutrients – Cobalamin, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, B12 and D, Riboflavin, Niacin, Fat and Carbohydrates.
Improves Bone Health:
As mentioned, most dairy products are well known to have a high content of calcium and thus are known to be good for fortifying bones. Weak bones will result in issues like bone fractures and osteoporosis in ladies later in life. Hence consuming dairy products on a regular basis is advisable to maintain proper bone health.
The calcium that helps strengthen bones is also used in strengthening teeth. While calcium works on the strengthening part, dairy also contains phosphorus and casein protein that fight against tooth decay. Whereas milk reduces the occurrence of cavities, hard cheese decreases the risk of cavities and teeth erosion.
Curd is made through the fermentation process, hence it contains a lot of good bacteria that make it pro-biotic. It aids in digestion. In India, in most households, we tend to end a heavy meal with curd due to this reason. Curd is also used in making raitha which serves as a side dish for calorie-heavy meals such as biryani and pulao. Buttermilk, kefir, and other cultured drinks are also dairy-based products that are pro-biotic.
Consumption of dairy products like milk, curd and cheese on a daily basis is known to have the following benefits:
- While consumed calorie-consciously dairy is said to have positive effects on weight management and weight loss.
- Helps in rehydrating the body post-exercise.
- The whey and casein protein in milk and milk products aid in mass muscle building.
- Moderated consumption of dairy is known to be beneficial for managing blood pressure.
- Milk and milk-based products can help lower the risk of heart ailments.
- Milk is known for aiding good sleep, so consuming a warm glass of milk before bedtime is advisable for people suffering from sleep issues.
Hope you have learned more about the various benefits of milk and other dairy products. Here’s to making the best use of them in our daily lives. Stay tuned for more superfoods articles. Happy parenting.