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A1 vs. A2 Milk: What’s the Difference?

A2 milk does not look any different than A1 milk when placed side-by-side. To the uninitiated, one looks just as good as the other. While they may appear similar, there is a marked difference that can mean the difference between enjoying a tall glass of milk and having unpleasant side effects afterward. That is because, despite appearances, one of these kinds of milk is not like the other.

A1 milk has something A2 milk is missing, and that is not necessarily a good thing. Raw milk aficionados familiar with both know exactly what A2 milk is lacking: the 67th amino acid in the chain. If you are asking yourself, “the 67th what now?”, let me explain.

What does A1 and A2 mean?

Before I can take a deep dive into which is better, I should probably explain what A1 and A2 mean. Both are proteins found in the casein family. Cow’s milk consists of 80 percent casein protein, which provides the human body with all the amino acids it needs to build healthy muscle. Casein is a superior form of protein. The body digests it more slowly than other proteins, which can make it more effective at reducing appetite.

Both contain 209 amino acids. As I already mentioned, where they differ is in the 67th amino acid in the chain. A1 milk has a histidine amino acid, whereas A2 milk has a proline amino acid. Why does this matter? Well, when A1 milk breaks down during digestion, it creates the peptide BCM-7. Peptides can impact our blood pressure, immune system, and even how our blood clots. It also can cause what some people like to call “intestinal discomfort.”

A2 milk is bio-available, which means the human body can absorb lots of it without unpleasant side effects. It also does not have the penchant for creating BCM-7.

All cows produce some A2 beta-casein, but only a few breeds produce only A2.

Which is better for dairy allergies?

An estimated 6.1 percent of people in the U.S. alone have a diagnosed dairy allergy. But are they allergic to all milk, or something in specific kinds of milk? Some scientists believe it is the latter of the two. Some people mistakenly believe it is the lactose in milk that causes them digestive upset. Lactose is basically the natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose intolerance and dairy allergy are not the same things. Some people who believe they are lactose intolerant find they still cannot consume lactose-free milk products without unpleasant side effects like bloating, diarrhea, and gas. If this describes you, it is possible you are not lactose intolerant at all, but rather have an A1 beta-casein allergy. Scientists believe that since it takes less time to digest A2 milk than A1 milk, it can reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and other GI issues.

Where does A1 milk come from?

A1 milk comes from dairy cow breeds that originated in Northern Europe. This includes Ayrshire, British Shorthorn, Holstein, and Fresian cows. When consumers go to the grocery store or anywhere else that sells milk in the U.S., they most likely see A1 milk options on the shelves. Roughly 12,000 retailers now sell A2 milk as an option, including big box stores like Costco, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods. Depending on where you live, consumers also can buy A2 milk directly from homesteaders and small dairy farms with cows that produce A2 milk.

Health benefits of A2 milk

Another advantage A2 milk has over A1 milk is its health benefits, especially when consumers drink A2 raw milk. We drink raw A2 milk here on our homestead from our Jersey cow. Avoiding pasteurization keeps all the nutrients intact in our milk (and there are a lot of them). Raw Jersey milk has seven vitamins and minerals the human body needs to flourish, including calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous. Why are all these nutrients and vitamins important? They help build and maintain healthy bones. Just one cup of raw A2 milk contains 146 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of healthy fat.

Some evidence exists to support that drinking raw A2 milk reduces the rates of allergies and asthma, as well as eczema and respiratory infections. It loses these benefits once heated past 149 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why I recommend drinking raw A2 milk instead of a pasteurized version. Only 11 states allow the retail sale of raw milk and milk products. They include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.

Another perk of drinking raw A2 milk is it can help prevent weight gain. It has been drilled into our heads that skim milk is what we should drink if we want to keep the pounds off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Skim milk contains added sugars, which commercial dairies put in there to help it taste more appealing. Why do they need to do that? Well, skim milk lacks butterfat, which is where all the tasty stuff is in milk. So, to make up for removing all the yummy goodness that naturally comes in milk, dairy producers add sugar (aka, empty calories).

A2 milk wins hands down

If you have not figured it out yet, our household is pro A2 milk for these and many other reasons not listed here. Raw is best, but if you cannot get your hands on it, the next best thing is to buy a commercial version if it is available in your state.

In our kitchen, we only use cultures from Cultures for Health.
Get yours here and start culturing today.

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Hi there! I’m Kelsey! I am a wife, a mother and homesteader. I’m also a Certified Natural Health Practitioner so health is very important to me. I love to help people with their health journey. A HUGE part of that process is through high quality milk. I am a massive proponent of rich, high quality milk from Jersey Cows.

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