The Skinny on Full Fat Dairy

Much of what we knew about full fat dairy products may be a myth according to a few recent studies. We were once told that full fat diary products contribute to heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, however these beliefs were surprisingly debunked by several research teams. Plus, there may be other benefits to full fat dairy that weren’t considered when the original recommendation of switching to low-fat dairy was made. Here’s the skinny on full fat dairy.

If there is anything we’ve learned about nutrition in the past decade it is that eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. In fact, healthy fats promote weight loss and many other health benefits. Full fat dairy products may fall into that category as well.

The Skinny on Full Fat DairySeveral recent studies indicate that full fat dairy does not contribute to weight gain or obesity and people who consume it are actually up to 50% less likely to get type 2 diabetes. Full fat dairy may have cardio-protective properties too as research shows people who have full fat dairy in their bloodstream were no more likely to have heart disease. This may also be attributed to a lower obesity rate with full fat dairy. Plus, full fat dairy contains less lactose and more fatty acids that aid digestion.

Beyond the benefits of full fat dairy products, the disadvantages of low fat dairy can be quite alarming. Low fat dairy products often have added sugar to compensate for the difference in taste and to become more satisfying.  Additional sugar can have a more harmful effect on the body than fat because sugar is linked to inflammation, the root cause of many diseases. Also, not eating enough fat can cause cravings which may lead to more sugary food choices.

But full fat dairy isn’t perfect either. Because they come from lactating (and often pregnant) cows, dairy products contain hormones. The hormones reside in fat and can be especially dangerous for women as some studies link breast and ovarian cancer to consumption of dairy products. Furthermore, too much fat of any kind can be harmful to the body.

The story of full fat dairy may continue to evolve but these recent studies are a surprising turn of events that not only dispel the myths about low fat dairy, but also inform us on potentially protective health measures. As with many cases in nutrition and life, finding the balance between full fat and low fat may be the best option.

Sources: Women’s Health, NPR and US News and World Report

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