If you want to stave off the ravages of time, be careful the next time you reach for a glass of milk.
A recent study suggests that choosing high-fat milk (whole and 2%) can accelerate the aging process compared with drinking lower-fat milk (skim and 1%).
Research by Brigham Young University exercise science professor Larry Tucker found that adults who drank 2% milk instead of 1% milk experienced more than four years of additional biological aging.
Tucker’s findings were published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.
The study, which involved examining data on more than 5,800 U.S. adults, focused on how milk consumption affects telomere length.
Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of human chromosomes — part of our DNA — that are similar to the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.
When cells replicate, which they do constantly, a bit of the endcap disappears, providing a window into the biological aging process. In essence, as the body ages, telomeres shorten. In fact, a BYU announcement about Tucker’s findings describes telomeres as acting like a biological clock.
In examining the telomeres of study participants, Tucker found that for every 1% increase in milk fat consumed, telomeres shortened by 69 base pairs — indicating more than four years of additional biological aging.
In the BYU announcement, Tucker says:
“It was surprising how strong the difference was. If you’re going to drink high-fat milk, you should be aware that doing so is predictive of or related to some significant consequences.”
Tucker calls milk “the most controversial food in our country,” noting that research has found both positive and negative impacts related to drinking the beverage.
And here’s a little more food for thought: People who abstain from drinking milk surprisingly had shorter telomeres than adults who drank low-fat milk. So, the study suggests that drinking low-fat milk will keep you younger than both drinking high-fat milk and avoiding cow juice altogether.
Milk is not the only thing you consume that impacts your health. A couple of years ago, the Global Council on Brain Health reported that eating certain foods can help protect your brain. For more, check out “The 5 Best Foods for Brain Health as You Age.”
Will this study change how you consume milk? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.