Today is National Milk Day, honoring when home milk delivery started in 1878 in sterilized glass bottles.
So, why not celebrate milk’s fresh, whole goodness with these five facts on its nutritional value and dairy farming? Oh, and pour yourself a glass of your favorite type of milk, too!
1. Supports a healthy immune system.
Milk has essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium that can help keep your immune system fighting an illness like the flu or common cold, says Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and spokeswoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
2. A healthier way to hydrate.
Milk is at the top of the beverage class for hydration. According to most research studies, it’s better than bottled water or sports drinks. For example, the U.S. Senators can replenish themselves with a glass of milk (one of the two beverage options permitted on the floor) during a filibuster.
Research has shown that drinking chocolate milk after vigorous exercise helps restore muscles. Chocolate milk is 90% water, but the fluid’s other nutrients, such as sodium and carbohydrates, help the body retain water and recoup its energy levels, says the Florida Dairy Farmers, a farmer-funded milk promotion organization.
Milk’s carbohydrates refresh the body of its depleted glycogen and stored carbohydrates supplies, allowing you to feel a boost of much-needed energy.
3. A lactose-free way to celebrate.
For some, consuming dairy is not an option, but alternatives allow the body to cash in on different nutritional values. For example, there’s lactose-free milk, which is similar to the nutritional benefits of real milk, minus the lactose enzyme. There’s also soy milk, another alternative, but it is usually lower in protein, riboflavin, and vitamins A and D. Some brands are fortified with riboflavin and vitamins A and D.
According to the USDA, almond milk, rice milk, and other plant-based milks are not a part of the dairy group. Most of these alternative drinks are fortified with calcium and vitamins, but can also contain added sugars and sodium, says the University of Florida Extension.
4. Milk production is up.
In the top 24 dairy-producing states, which include California, Texas, and Pennsylvania, milk production increased last year by 1.4% which is 17.5 billion pounds. According to USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the average production per cow has also increased by 17 pounds. One cow can produce nine gallons of milk a day, which is about 128 glasses of milk.
5. Build up your bones.
The most under-consumed nutrients by Americans are calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, which are crucial to developing bone strength, according to the National Dairy Council. And all those vital nutrients can be consumed by just drinking a glass of milk. Bones continue to grow until age 35, so building your bones to maximize stability can reduce the risk of low bone mass and osteoporosis.