Study on processed cow’s milk published in Food Hydrocolloids journal

Riddet Institute PhD candidate Natalie Ahlborn’s milk research has appeared in Food Hydrocolloids.  Her work on processed milk being digested differently was conducted in collaboration with AgResearch and Otago University. It was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. 

Milk is an essential, affordable, and accessible form of nutrition around the world, providing many necessary nutrients to the diet.  It is also one of the easiest-to-digest forms of protein, making milk an important component of healthy diets.

The research looked at the difference that heat treatment and homogenisation make to digestion transit time, given that different processes change the structure of proteins and fats, and the way fat is distributed in the milk.

The study demonstrated that commercial processing treatments of bovine milk do have an impact.  It compared the speed of gastric emptying of UHT, pasteurised homogenised, pasteurised non-homogenised and raw milks.

The research found the UHT milk was digested the fastest, followed by pasteurised homogenised milk, pasteurised non-homogenised and, finally, raw milk.  Dry matter, protein, and lipid and curd formation were also measured.  There were substantial differences in digestion of the fats and solid portions of the milks.  Natalie says the findings could lead to tailored milk products for specific consumer groups to address different nutritional needs, such as those of athletes or the elderly. 

Natalie has produced the research in visual form in the animation below:

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