Healthy Lifestyle

Out With the Skim: Research Suggests Full-Fat Milk Does the Body Better

Things like skim milk and light yogurt are still staples in many refrigerators because that’s what we’ve been told is healthy. In fact, the federal government still advocates consumption of skim milk over whole milk, based on guidelines that were published in 1985.

The verdict on dairy may soon change, though. Research continues to emerge suggesting that whole-fat dairy may not be so bad for you after all. It may actually be better.


Not all fats are created equal

It’s widely known that not all fat is unhealthy. Plant-based fat from foods like avocados, coconuts, olives and nuts can help lower your risk of heart disease, making it superior to most animal-based fat.

While dairy foods are indeed animal-based, newer research suggests that dairy fat has similar health benefits to plant-based fat.

One of the more recent studies, which is gaining quite a bit of traction, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It suggests that older adults with higher levels of dairy-related fatty acids may be less likely to die from heart disease and stroke. A wild concept, considering high-fat dairy was once thought to increase such risks.


Less fat = less filling

When fat is removed from certain products, other additives are often needed to help with taste, texture and consistency.

When you see words like skim, low-fat or fat-free, think processed. And over time, processed foods can lead to chronic diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

While it’s true that products with less fat may contain less calories, they are usually also less filling. And when foods are less filling, it’s natural to compensate with more food and drink. So dieters beware: Opting for skim milk on your cereal or in your glass may put you at higher risk of weight gain.

The importance of moderation

Proper and balanced nutrition requires fat. It is critical to your health and well-being. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed with fat in order to be absorbed by your body. Fat aids in necessary hormone production, and it also protects your organs.

Quality fat matters, but it can be overdone. I don’t recommend guzzling vitamin D milk at every meal and topping it off with a stick of butter smothered in cottage cheese.

The takeaway is this: It’s OK to stop fearing regular dairy products. If you like the taste of the full-fat stuff, stop buying fat-free. Shop the dairy case without hunting for the word “light.” Enjoy whole milk again – and the added health benefits that come with it!

Just keep in mind: As with any recommendation, it's important to have an ongoing discussion with your physician. Medical science is always progressing, and new research may counter current dietary trends.

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About the Author

Dr. M. Alexender Shehan enjoys being a patient’s steward for treatment of health issues.

“Working with patients is far and away the most rewarding part of my job,” he said.

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