Milk naturally contains fat, known as milk fat. Fats yield energy, just like carbohydrates. Fats are also a vital constituent of our cell walls in the form of phospholipids. In addition, they are important for maintaining a healthy hormone balance. Fats also give our food a full and natural flavour.
Dairy products with widely varying fat contents are available on the market. Consumers can make their own choice. People who want to consume less energy, for instance, can opt for semi-skimmed and low-fat dairy products. The dairy sector offers a broad range of low-fat and even fat-free products, ranging from skimmed to semi-skimmed milk, yoghurt, milk powders and coffee creamers to reduced-fat cheese, butter and desserts.
The fat content in milk varies according to diverse factors. These include seasonal influences, the feed given to the cow and the breed of cow. In most countries and dairy products, the fat content is standardised. This means that milk and dairy products have a fixed fat content.
In some countries, such as Germany, consumers can also buy dairy products containing the naturally variable fat content of milk.
Many different fatty acids
Milk fat is a natural fat that contains a great many different fatty acids. Fatty acids can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. In addition, there is a great variation in the length of the chains of fatty acids.
The fat composition of milk depends on various factors, such as the feed given to the cow. The fat composition is therefore different in the summer than in the winter. Outdoor grazing and the feed given to the cow influence the fat composition of the milk.
Read more about the nutritional value of milk