Don’t feel guilty for passing over that carton of blue-tinged skim milk in favor of whole milk next time you’re in the dairy aisle. It turns out, consuming full-fat dairy, like whole milk, may be a healthier choice than the low-fat or fat-free alternatives, like skim milk.
According to a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, people who regularly consume full-fat dairy weigh less and are less likely to develop diabetes than those who consume low-fat dairy products.
In analyzing the blood of 3,333 adults taken over 15 years, researchers discovered that people who eat full-fat dairy had an average 46 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than people who consumed low-fat or fat-free dairy, Time reports.
“I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who led the study. “There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.”
Experts believe that eating high-fat foods keep you feeling full longer, possibly reducing how many calories you consume. People who reduce their fat intake tend to replace it with carbohydrates and sugar, which can increase their risk of developing diabetes.
“This is just one more piece of evidence showing that we really need to stop making recommendations about food based on theories about one nutrient in food,” says Mozaffarian. “It’s crucial at this time to understand that it’s about food as a whole, and not about single nutrients.”
Mozaffarian isn’t recommending that you go out and eat or drink a lot of full-fat dairy. Instead, he said it’s smart to eat a mix of high-, low- and no-fat dairy products.
“In the absence of any evidence for the superior effects of low-fat dairy, and some evidence that there may be better benefits of whole-fat dairy products for diabetes, why are we recommending only low-fat diary?” Mozaffarian told Time. “We should be telling people to eat a variety of dairy and remove the recommendation about fat content.”
Are you a milk drinker? What do you use — skim, 1 percent or 2 percent? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.