The main difference between full-fat milk and skimmed milk is the fat content and therefore the calorie content. The level of nutrients in milk is independent of the fat content, and equal in full and skimmed milk.
Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is milk from which the fat partly has been removed. This results in a lower fat content and a relatively slightly higher percentage of carbohydrates and protein in semi-skimmed and skimmed milk. The fat content of milk may differ between countries and it is subject to local legislation.
Overall, skimmed milk contains about 0.5% fat, semi-skimmed milk 1.5% fat and full fat milk contains about 3.5% fat. Most nutrients are in the non-fat part of the milk and will not be affected by skimming the milk. Both full fat, semi-skimmed, and skimmed milk contain comparable amounts protein, vitamin B2 and B12 and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iodine. However, there is one exception. Milk fat contains vitamin A. By skimming the milk the vitamin A content will decrease. Due to the relatively higher fat percentage, cheese is a source of vitamin A.
Typical Dutch-type cheese is made from full-fat milk. The fat content in cheese is expressed as percentage of the dry matter which are all the ingredients of cheese, without the water. In the case of full-fat cheese about 48% of the dry matter of this cheese is fat. However, because cheese also contains water, the overall fat percentage of the cheese is lower. The fat percentage of reduced-fat cheese is also lower, because these cheeses are made from semi-skimmed milk.
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