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There are several different types of dairy products on the market, which are defined as foods made from the milk of animals. The most popular made from cow’s milk are pasteurized or raw milk, cheese, and butter. Yogurt and ice cream are also considered to be popular dairy products.
One of the most well-known dairy products is milk, which is typically pasteurized to remove any harmful bacteria and to increase shelf life. Cow’s milk is also often sold with different levels of fat content. Whole milk tends to include a little over 3% of the original fat content, while reduced fat milk has 2% fat, low-fat milk has 1%, and fat-free milk has less than 1%. These dairy products typically have added vitamin D. Raw cow’s milk, which is not pasteurized, is a popular health food in some areas, although it is not legally available for sale in all countries. Milk from goats is also commonly sold as a drink.
Cheese is possibly one of the most popular dairy products in the world, and many countries pride themselves on the types of cheese for which the country is known. This food product is made from the pressed curds of any number of different types of animal milk, including cow, goat, and sheep, among others. Domestic buffalo milk is the primary ingredient in traditional mozzarella cheese. There are thousands of different types of cheese which can be used in any number of dishes or eaten alone.
Butter is made from the fat of milk, typically that which comes from cow’s milk. Like cheese, it is a popular staple throughout the world, and many areas are well-known for the type of butter that it produces. These dairy products are used as a spread, in baking, or in cooking, and are available in salted and unsalted varieties. Butter is especially popular in French cooking, where quality butter is considered a necessity for the majority of recipes.
Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented with bacteria; it can be either pasteurized or unpasteurized. Plain yogurt is a popular cooking ingredient or stand-alone food. Many varieties are often flavored with fruit, honey, or vanilla. Added vitamins and nutrients are often included in mass-produced yogurt, although natural and organic brands tend to limit this and any additional sugar.
Ice cream is a sweetened dairy product made from milk fat. In its basic form, it is a combination of sugar, cream, and egg, though technically the addition of eggs actually creates a frozen custard. A variety of other flavorings can be added to both the ice cream itself or folded into the dessert. Popular additions include vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Green tea, mint, and a variety of nuts, as well as a multitude of other ingredients can also be included in this dairy product.
One thing that is irritating is how often dairy products are deemed harmful, then declared healthy and then determined to be harmful again. For example, it was the conventional wisdom for years that butter was unhealthy unless eaten sparingly. That led to the development of substitutes such as margarine, which some have argued is more unhealthy than butter.
Perhaps what people need to focus on is how "natural" the product is. Margarine is all chemicals and vegetable oil, whereas butter is a more "natural" product. That being the case, one would guess that butter is better for you.