Difference between A1 and A2 Cow Milk, and Organic and Grass-fed Milk


The market is suddenly flooded with different brands selling A1 and A2 Milk. Any large supermarket or grocery store is selling a variety of these ‘organic and farm fresh’ labeled milk bottles.

But how does a consumer get to know the difference between the varieties available, and decide which milk is actually good for consumption?

Let me simplify this for you, and make it easy for you to make an informed decision.

What does A1 and A2 mean?

80% of milk protein is a protein called Casein. Now casein is further made up of A1 or A2 proteins. These two proteins are almost identical – each of them is a long chain of 209 amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of any protein).

The difference between both the proteins, is in the 67th amino acid of the chain. This 67th amino acid determines if the protein is A1 or A2.

When A1 protein is broken down in our body, it creates a peptide called BCM-7, which is known to have a lot of negative effect on health. BCM-7 can attack our immunity and as well cause changes in the blood pressure.

On the other hand, when A2 protein is broken down, it creates a very strong bond with the BCM-7 and keeps it away from creating a problem on its own.

A2 producing cows are mostly the Indian breeds like Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi etc and can be recognised by a hump on their back. There are about 30-35 Indian cow breeds found in different states. A2 cows are also found in Africa in a lot of countries.

Foreign breeds like Jersey cows and Holstein cows produce A1, and do not have a hump on their back. A lot of Indian cows are crossbred with these breeds to produce more milk, which is what needs to be watched out for!

What is Organic and Grass-fed Milk?

Organic milk means that the milk is from cows which have been fed organic fodder and/or grains and are not injected with artificial hormones and antibiotics.

Grass-fed means that the cows have been fed with grass and other herbs, instead of being fed non-organic cereals or grains, and other processed foods.

Grain-fed cows could have toxins and artificial hormones in the milk, because of the genetically modified grains that are fed to them, and injections given to keep them healthy and to increase their milk production.

Another common term used is Grass-fed butter which is basically the butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

How should you choose your milk?

There are a lot of aggregators in the industry today, who are collecting and distributing milk from different farms, and hence it gets very difficult to know what quality of milk you are actually consuming.

To be 100% sure of the milk, you must choose a farm in your city where the number of cows is restricted, and where there are proper controls in place to ensure that the cows are fed right, are medically fit, and the milking is ideally done by hand instead of machines. Grass fed cows are the best, because the milk is far more nutritious and tastier.

Ideal would be to visit such a farm yourself and see the process, and also ensure that the milk that reaches you is not diluted with water or chemicals. Always know your source!

Also, say NO to pasteurized milk which comes in a packet or a tetrapack and has a long shelf life. Pasteurization method (which is excessive heating) kills the goodness of the milk. Moreover, these are packaged in factories and take a few days to reach the grocery stores, so they are loaded with chemicals to keep the milk from getting bad. Instead, opt for raw milk which is collected fresh from the farm the same day. Raw milk might cost 3x the price of packaged milk, but is the right choice to make.

Disclaimer – Before making any changes to your diet, pls consult your doctor for an opinion, especially if you have any medical issues or if you are pregnant.


Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.