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What Are the Health Benefits of Buttermilk?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The primary health benefits of buttermilk come from its high content of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B12, riboflavin, and potassium. Buttermilk is also considered a digestive aid, and is often tolerated by many of those who are lactose intolerant. Benefits of buttermilk that would be important to those trying to lose weight, or who are suffering from obesity-related illnesses, would include its low content of calories and fat.

Buttermilk is a good source of vitamin B12, which is responsible for helping to synthesize fatty and amino acids. B12 is also believed to help fight anemia, stress, and may help promote nerve cell growth. One of the primary benefits of vitamin B12 is that it helps convert glucose in the body into energy. Those who suffer from a deficiency of B12 often feel weak and may suffer from constipation and insomnia.

Riboflavin and potassium are also found in buttermilk. Potassium is believed to help lower blood pressure and, like vitamin B12, riboflavin helps convert foods to energy. Buttermilk is also considered a good source of calcium and phosphorous, both of which may contribute to bone health.

Other benefits of buttermilk apply to dieting and weight loss. Buttermilk is lower in calories and fat than whole milk, and even some reduced-fat milks. Some research indicates that excessive consumption of foods high in calories and fat content can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Buttermilk typically has just over half the calories found in whole milk and fully three-quarters less fat per serving.

One of the most important health benefits of buttermilk is its ease of digestion. Many people who have problems digesting whole milk may find that they do not have the same digestion problems after drinking buttermilk. This could be because the difficulty in digesting milk often comes from lactose intolerance, and buttermilk is lactose-free. The lactose in buttermilk has already been changed into lactic acid, which is typically much gentler on the digestive tract.

Buttermilk may also help rid the stomach of acids that lead to heartburn and indigestion. It coats the lining of the stomach, which helps to keep acids from moving up through the esophagus. Some people who suffer from ulcers claim that drinking a glass of buttermilk with meals helps them keep ulcer flare-ups to a minimum.

For those who would like to add the health benefits of buttermilk to their daily diet, it can be a simple matter of substituting buttermilk in recipes that call for whole milk. In most cases, the two types of milk are interchangeable, and many cooks claim that buttermilk is actually better for baked goods than is whole milk. Buttermilk is also often preferred for cooking foods with crusts, such as fried chicken and fish.

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Discussion Comments

By anon999108 — On Oct 27, 2017

I have always loved the taste. I do add a pinch of salt which makes it taste better. I have a crazy digestive system and when I drink buttermilk it really helps. I was curious about it's benefits and reading this article was great. It confirms that it not only tastes good, but it's good for me. Very enlightening.

By anon978684 — On Nov 19, 2014

I always had a misconception about buttermilk because of the name, but I saw something on TV about the health benefits and decided to try it. To my surprise, it was all the yummy taste of sour cream, with no guilt! It has twice the calcium of a serving of yogurt, but is less expensive.

By anon953166 — On May 24, 2014

At a boarding house where I once lived, the proprietor served buttermilk. I started "drinking" buttermilk by tasting a few drops in a spoon. I like sour things, so soon I needed a bigger spoon. Then I changed to a cup. Then I would ask "Pass the buttermilk?" and empty the pitcher. Then the buttermilk disappeared. Now I live elsewhere, I buy Altedena lowfat (1 percent) buttermilk @ Smart & Final.

By anon925971 — On Jan 15, 2014

We have recently discovered butter milk in a grocery store. We are from Pakistan and in our culture people use it so frequently, but its consistency is really thin as compared to the one we found in Canada. It's so think, it's not even drinkable. So we pour 1 glass of buttermilk in a jug and add 4 glasses of water in it, it was just like the one we are used to. You can add a pinch of salt to it and consume it throughout the day, you'll get addicted to it because it's so refreshing. I hope this helps.

By anon359581 — On Dec 18, 2013

Salt and pepper makes it taste better.

By ZipLine — On Oct 01, 2013

Buttermilk is excellent for digestion. I drink a small glass several times a week for my ulcerative colitis. But I get organic buttermilk from a local milk farm, not the stuff from the grocery.

By donasmrs — On Oct 01, 2013

@literally-- After all of the fat is removed from milk to make butter, the remaining milk is called buttermilk. Buttermilk is much more nutritious and healthy than regular milk like the article said. My mom is a vegetarian and buttermilk was recommended to her to avoid vitamin deficiencies. I'm not sure what she thinks about the taste because she never complains about it. But I do know that she adds some water and salt to it, to make the buttermilk easier to drink.

If you can't drink buttermilk, then try a yogurt drink instead. It's not the same thing because yogurt has fat, but you will get a lot of calcium and vitamin B12 with yogurt as well.

By literally45 — On Sep 30, 2013

I would have never guessed from the name that buttermilk is low in fat and calories. The name suggests exactly the opposite. I tried buttermilk once and I couldn't tolerate the taste. I have a vitamin B12 deficiency so I do need to eat more foods like buttermilk. How do most people drink buttermilk? Can I make it taste better somehow?

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