Types of Milk

Milk, especially cow milk, is one of the ultimate superfoods. It is rich in all the essential nutrients and one of the best sources of calcium, vitamins, and proteins. In fact, dairy products, mainly milk, are the only source of casein and whey proteins, both excellent for muscle health and growth.

How Many Types of Milk Are There

Based on the Source

  1. Animal-based Milk: Cattle produce over 80% of the milk consumed worldwide annually. Goats, water buffalo, sheep, and camels are among the other noteworthy dairy animals raised for milk.
  2. Plant-based Milk: There’s also a whole array of dairy-free vegan milk out there that can be just as nutritious and do nearly as well as regular milk, whether you’re pouring it into your morning coffee or over your cereal. You can get milk from all sorts of grains, nuts, seeds, and even fruits and tubers. In fact, there are about a dozen different plant-based milk options you can commonly find at your local grocery store.

Based on Processing

The types of milk do not end at the type of source from which it is collected. Cow milk itself is treated and processed into about a dozen different varieties to adjust its fat content, increase shelf life, or eliminate certain nutrients, like lactose and A1 β-casein because these can lead to unwanted health effects in some people.

Here is the basic idea of the different types of milk based on how they are processed. Most of these most commonly apply to cow milk and are printed on the labels of milk packages.

By Fat ContentBy Modification in NutrientsTaste or Shelf Life
Whole Milk (3-4% fat)Lactose-freeFlavored milk
Reduced Fat (Around 2% fat)A2 Milk (free of A1 β-casein protein)UHT (Ultra Heat Treatment for longer shelf life)
Low-fat Milk (1% fat)Calcium-enriched
Skim (0.1% fat)

Different Types of Dairy and Non-dairy Milk (Comparison Chart)

It is difficult to pick one particular type of milk as the healthiest because whether or not a type of milk will be the ‘healthiest’ for you depends on your dietary preferences and health considerations. Cow milk is often considered the best choice, both in terms of nutrition and availability. Conversely, the average American prefers the reduced and low-fat varieties (1-2% fat).

Types of Milk

However, none of this will apply to a person with lactose intolerance. Several plant-based milk alternatives can be just as nutritious in such an instance.

Here is a list of all the recognized types of milk you might find at the supermarket and what you can do with them apart from drinking directly:

Milk TypeProtein/Cup (8oz)Calcium/CupCalories/Cup Carbs/CupTotal Fat/CupBest for
Milk from Common Dairy Animals
Cow Milk8 gm (1% fat)300 mg (1% fat)103 kcal (1% fat)12 gm (1% fat)2.4 gm (1% fat)Typical choice for milk-based beverages, tea, and coffee; also used for cooking, baking, and making dairy items like cheese, butter, and yogurt
Water Buffalo Milk12 gm451 mg237  kcal12 gm12 gmUses similar to cow milk as it can be added to coffee, smoothies, and desserts; also used for making famous cheese varieties like ricotta and buffalo mozzarella
Goat Milk9 gm327168 kcal1110The main ingredient in the famous Caucasian fermented drink Kefir; used for making cheese varieties like chevre and feta and as a substitute for cow milk in various recipes
Sheep Milk8 gm470 mg265 kcal13 gm17 gmUsed as a substitute for cow milk in coffee and other beverages, as well as in baking; also used for making cheese varieties like pecorino romano and manchego
Camel Milk6 gm330 mg100 kcal10 gm6 gmAn important source of milk in various Middle Eastern and North African countries; Others like the US  and Australia have also started camel farming for milk
Mare (Horse) Milk5.5 gm310 mg11011g6gOften used in making the fermented milk drink called kumis; also used for making cheese and yogurt
Donkey Milk5 g150 mg150 kcal18 gm6 gmOften used in making the fermented milk drink called kumis; Can be used as a substitute for human milk in infant nutrition
Moose milk24g630mg35035g20gRarely available outside countries like Sweden, Russia, and Canada where moose farming is being commercialised
Milk From Non-dairy Sources
Almond Milk1 gm470 mg60 kcal8 gm2.5 gmIn coffee, smoothies, cereals, and for baking
Oat Milk4 gm350 mg120 kcal16 gm5 gmTo make coffee, cappuccino, and smoothies, for adding to cereals and baking
Soy Milk7 gm60 mg100 kcal4 gm4 gmTo make coffee, cappuccino, smoothies, and for baking
Coconut Milk5 gm40 mg552 kcal0.5 gm4.5 gmTo make various white curries, soups, smoothies, and for baking
Pea Milk8 gm450 mg100 kcal6 gm4.5 gmIn coffee, smoothies, cereals, and for baking
Rice Milk0.7 gm300 mg120 kcal23 gm2.5 gmTo make milk-based drinks, for baking, and cooking
Hemp Milk (unsweetened)3 gm300 mg100 kcal0 gm3.5 gmIn smoothies, cereals, etc., and for baking
Peanut Milk8 gm285 mg150 kcal6 gm4.5 gmIn smoothies, cereals, etc., and for baking
Cashew Milk1 gm450 mg170 kcal8 gm2.5 gmTo make coffee and smoothies; also added to cereals and used in baking
Walnut Milk1 gm450 mg120 kcal13 gm7 gmIn coffee, tea, smoothies, and cereal
Flax Milk5 gm290 mg25 kcal2 gm2.5 gmIn smoothies, cereal, or as a substitute for dairy milk in various recipes
Macadamia Milk1 gm450 mg50 kcal1 gm5 gmAdded to cereal; also in cooking and baking as it adds a creamy texture to dishes
Hazelnut Milk3 gm180 mg100 kcal1 gm4 gmAdded to cereal or used for oatmeal, smoothies, and sauces
Quinoa Milk2 gm120 mg70 kcal12 gm1.5 gmGreat for drinking on its own or adding to cereal; also in cooking and baking as it adds a creamy texture to dishes
Tiger Nut Milk1 gm180 mg100 kcal10 gm7 gmIn smoothies, coffee, or cereal; can also be used in cooking and baking
Potato Milk0.7 gm20 mg110 kcal5 gm2 gmPrimarily in cooking and baking as a dairy milk substitute due to its neutral flavor and creamy texture
Note that the nutrient content of milk, especially the plant-based varieties, may vary based on brands.

Other animals, especially mares (female horses), moose, and pigs, are also milked in certain regions where they are farmed. For example, moose farming is being commercialized in countries like Sweden, Russia, and Canada.

When it comes to the non-dairy milk types, their taste often varies from one brand to another. So, how you want to use them largely depends on your preference.