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Is Cream-Top, Low-Pasteurized Milk the Key to a Healthier You?

written by

Michelle Sroka

posted on

June 14, 2023

Have you tried cream-top, low-pasteurized dairy yet? 

If you don't already know, dairy that's been minimally processed not only tastes great - but it also has enhanced nutrition and is easier to digest, too.

And when you're working with a small, local dairy like Ran-Lew Dairy, that prioritizes health and community relationships? That makes it even better. 

Milk is considered a complete food - some would even call it perfect. This is because it contains a balance of macronutrients: fats, carbs, and protein. Moreover, the protein that milk provides, like all animal proteins, is a complete protein, which means it provides all of the essential amino acids that our body needs. (Not all proteins are created equal!)

But milk is also an important source of micronutrients. Milk not only contains essential vitamins like A, B2, B12, K, and D, but it also provides magnesium, calcium, potassium, selenium, and iron. (Not sure what micronutrients do? Check out this article for a debrief.)

If you're on a budget, these nutritional qualities make milk an excellent addition to your diet. In the case of milk, just a little bit can go a long way.

Yet the nutrition that you receive from milk depends upon how that milk is produced.

Let's dig into why cream-top, low-pasteurized milk is better for you -- and why you should purchase it from a local, small dairy.

Reason #1: Low pasteurization preserves the nutritional benefits of milk. 

What is low pasteurization? It’s a process of heating milk low and slow, at just the right temperature and pace, to eliminate harmful bacteria. 

However, most of the milk that we can access – what we find at the store - goes through a process called ultra pasteurization. In ultra pasteurization, milk is quickly heated to an extremely high temperature - specifically, 280 degrees Fahrenheit in just two seconds. 

Why does this matter?

The rationale behind ultra pasteurization is that heating the milk at such a high temperature, in such a quick period of time, wipes out all bacteria, making the milk safer and more shelf-stable. However, ultra-pasteurization leads to a host of problems.

First, ultra-pasteurization kills virtually everything.
This means that it not only kills the pathogenic bacteria, but also much of the beneficial nutrients in milk. This includes the vitamins and minerals that we need - which is why you often see artificially fortified milk at the store.

Second, it also alters the protein structure of milk.
The extreme heat breaks down the structural bonds in the protein, causing it to elongate. This affects the solubility of the milk proteins, which in turn alters how they behave in our body.

For some people, this means that we absorb less protein than we would from low-pasteurized or non-pasteurized milk. For others, it leads to problems digesting milk.

So how is low pasteurized dairy different? 

Ran-Lew Dairy practices batch, or low pasteurization. In other words, the milk is pumped into a controlled vat, slowly heated to around 145 degrees, and held at this temperature for 30 minutes. It's the most minimal way to process milk. (And don't you want minimal intervention in your food?) 

Low pasteurization kills pathogenic bacteria while preserving most of the beneficial bacteria and nutrients that milk provides. This means that the vitamins and minerals that are naturally in this milk, from cows being on pasture - things like vitamin D and beta-carotene - will stay in your food.

Using low-intervention processing protects the protein structure of milk, the majority of its nutrients, and its solubility. This means that it's not only an enhanced source of nutrition, but it's also possible to make things with your milk, if you're interested in doing so.

Reason #2: Cream-top milk preserves the structure of natural milk.

Let's talk homogenization: or the process of changing the molecular structure of milk in order to make it appear uniform.

How does this happen? Milk is pushed through small openings at very high pressure, tearing the natural fat globules into very small particles. Smaller particles leads to emulsification, so that the cream no longer separates and rises to the top.

Although this creates a more uniform aesthetic appearance, there are a few reasons to avoid homogenized milk.

First, the particles produced through this process are so small that they pass from your digestive tract directly into your bloodstream. They don't attach to particles, as they would if you were drinking non-homogenized milk, so that you can absorb the nutrition.

By skipping this step, your body is unable to absorb the fat present in milk - fat that's good for you, and necessary for healthy cellular reproduction.

However, for some people this leads to more dire consequences. When the milk passes directly into their bloodstream, it triggers an immune response. It recognizes these too-small particles as foreign objects that must be attacked, making people sick and unable to consume dairy products.

Homogenization prevents you from consuming milk as a complete food - one that has the right balance of fat, carbs, and proteins for your body.

Reason #3: Ran-Lew Dairy milk comes from happy, healthy cows - resulting in superior taste and quality.

Another reason to purchase from a small, local dairy -- apart from processing practices?

Ran-Lew Dairy cows spend their days on pasture. Having access to grass and sunshine has multiple effects. It eliminates the use of artificial hormones. Also, it creates a healthier environment for the cows, which means that they don't need antibiotics. And finally, it increases the level of micronutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

Reason #4: Purchasing local food creates better food choice for you.

When you support a small, local dairy, you invest in a business that's chosen to raise food differently. This often means that you can access food that provides benefits you can't find anywhere else. This includes healthier, more humanely raised animals; better nutrition; and a strong local economy that can withstand supply chain problems. 

If those places can't stay in business, it limits the choices you have for food. If you want to shop outside of an industrial-scale system, it's important to support small farms (and their partners) directly.

That's why we've teamed up with Ran-Lew Dairy to bring higher-quality milk directly to your door. When you purchase through our farm, we'll deliver it to you. Better choice, without going to the store. Or, if you're outside of our central NC region, you can access food that you can't find anywhere near you.

Do you drink low-pasteurized, cream-top dairy? What differences have you noticed? 

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