Milk is one of the most unique types of nourishment out there, with many different kinds that all have unique benefits and drawbacks.
You may be a new parent, seeking the best nourishment for your child, or you may be asking the question for yourself – should you use breast milk, or try something like buttermilk? Well, the answer lies in this article, where we’ll compare everything about these two including nutritional profiles, textures, flavors, allergens, and more!
You’ll learn everything you need to make an informed decision, and ultimately see which one of these milks you should choose: breast milk, or buttermilk?
Comparing breast milk vs buttermilk
The sources of these milks is interesting because they’re both from mammals, with breast milk coming from humans and buttermilk stemming from cows! Both of them are considered dairy, giving them milk as an allergen – they both contain lactose, but babies produce the enzyme lactase, which means they can digest their mother’s milk. However, cow’s milk is one of the most common allergens in children, so be careful with buttermilk.
Breast milk is paleo-friendly, while buttermilk isn’t. Neither milk is suitable for vegan or keto diets because they come from mammals and have too many carbs.
|Human (breast) milk
* Contains milk protein which may or may not be tolerated by people with a cow’s milk allergy (the most common milk allergy)
Differences between breast milk and buttermilk
The main difference between breast milk and buttermilk is that one comes from a human with no processing, while the other goes through a fermenting process.
Breast milk comes straight from a human, and provides all of the essential nutrients, immune cells, antibodies, and proteins that the baby needs – it’s nature’s superfood, containing all the things needed for development! Plus, it changes and adapts as the baby’s nutritional needs change, which is amazing!
Buttermilk, on the other hand, originates from a cow, but has a probiotic culture added to the homogenized or pasteurized milk to ferment it, basically giving us a curdled milk. It boasts a thick and creamy texture with a tangy and slightly sour flavor profile.
How to use breast milk vs buttermilk
You can use breast milk and buttermilk in many more ways than you might have thought, including:
- Breastfeed with it (the classic).
- Mixing with baby cereals to introduce solids.
- Bottle-feeding with it.
- Mixing into baby food.
- Soothing skin irritations, as it’s believed to have healing properties.
- Adding to smoothies for its nutritional qualities.
- Drink by itself or use like kefir.
- Use it for marinades and brines.
- Tenderize meat with it.
- Moisten different bakes like pancakes, cookies, and cakes.
- Use it to make thick and creamy dressings and dips.
- Make the many recipes that call for its tangy flavor and creamy texture.
Can you substitute breast milk for buttermilk?
Generally, the answer is no.
Breast milk provides important nutritional qualities for a baby, while buttermilk doesn’t meet those requirements. Most recommendations are that you should wait until the child is about 1 year old before you start introducing buttermilk, as giving it to them before can cause allergies and other issues – buttermilk still has the same proteins as cow’s milk, so it’s best not push it too early.
However, as a human, you technically could – some people think there are health benefits in it (although scientific evidence is unclear), and it was a big phase back in the 80s for bodybuilding…although that’s still somewhat going on these days. It’s not very common, but it’s generally not recommended as it may cause health risks drinking bodily fluids.
Nutrition: Breast milk vs buttermilk
Breast milk has a differing nutritional profile that varies from mother to mother depending on the age of the nursing child. It contains essential nutrients, enzymes, proteins, and antibodies that are all important in supporting the child’s growth, immune system development, and cognitive function.
Generally, breast milk contains around 3-5% fat, 0.8-0.9% protein, and 6.9-7.2% carbohydrates.
Buttermilk, on the other hand, has a good fat content, a lot of carbs, 11 grams of sugar per serving, and a good protein content of 10 grams per serving. It also has a solid source of vitamin D and calcium, and contains probiotics that are great for overall health!
|Per 1 cup (237 ml/8 oz.)
|Human (breast) milk
|Varies among lactating mothers and age of nursing child.
|Total fat (saturated)
|2.5 g (2 g)
|Total sugars (incl. added)
|11 g (0 g)
How to store breast milk and buttermilk
To store breast milk, keep it in a clean and sterilized bottle with a tight lid. It generally lasts in the fridge for up to 4 days, but you can freeze it and keep it for around 6-12 months!
Buttermilk should be stored in the fridge as well, and will last you around 7 days unopened. Try to finish it within 5 days of opening for the best freshness – some brands claim that buttermilk will last up to 14 days after opening, but that can be a risk for spoiling!
Breast milk vs buttermilk: The ultimate verdict
So, which one of these is best?
Well, this is a bit of an interesting case, and comes with two answers…
Breast milk is better for infants, as its nutritional qualities are unmatched in providing essential nutrients, proteins, and more to children as they’re developing. Buttermilk is better for adults, as drinking breast milk as an adult poses some health risks, and breast milk can’t substitute buttermilk in the many recipes that it’s called for.
Many different types of milk like raw cow milk, hemp milk, rice milk, cashew milk, almond milk, etc. have unique pros and cons. Talk to your physician or nutritionist, or research different types of milk to find one that fits your needs.
Breast milk is considered better for infants due to its nutritional properties, but cow’s milk is generally better as we grow older.
Cow’s milk is much more accessible to adults, and provides awesome nutrients. Breast milk also comes with some risk in our adult years, as it’s a bodily fluid.
Buttermilk is fermented and provides a tangy, slightly sour taste and has a thicker texture. It also has less fat and slightly more protein, and is better used for adding moisture to bakes.