The era of fixing low-fat foods is over and more and more health professionals are advising that the healthy fats found in foods such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are good for you. But the jury remains out on dairy. Organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics still recommend sticking to skimmed or low-fat versions of dairy products, as does the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, says AARP.
Milk is one of the most naturally nutritious beverages on the planet, according to Health Line. For decades, nutritional guidelines have advised people over the age of two to consume only low-fat dairy products. However, in recent years, scientists have changed their minds. Recent studies even suggest that skimmed milk might not be the best option. Milk generally comes in three varieties:
• whole milk: 3.25% milk fat
• skimmed milk: 1% milk fat
• skimmed: less than 0.5% milk fat
Whole milk contains more calories due to its fat content and each type of milk contains a similar amount of micronutrients. However, whole milk contains more omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that has been linked to numerous health benefits, according to Healthline. Whole milk contains saturated fats that are thought to cause heart disease. But emerging research indicates that consuming moderate amounts of saturated fat does not directly cause heart disease.
Studies have also shown that drinking whole milk does not cause weight gain. In fact, consuming high-fat dairy products may help promote weight management. A recent review of 29 studies concluded that the consumption of whole dairy products was not associated with weight gain or fat gain in children.
Whole milk may reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. In a large study, people with the highest amount of dairy-derived fatty acids in their bloodstream had a 44% lower diabetes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at patients with metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke — and found that a Diet high in whole dairy products had no effect on blood pressure or cholesterol compared to a diet restricted in dairy products or high in low-fat dairy products, says the AARP.
A previous study found that even older adults who consumed whole dairy products had a lower risk of death from all causes, as well as a lower risk of heart disease. The key, says cardiologist Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, is “to stop making sweeping statements like ‘Avoid whole dairy products because they’re high in saturated fat’.” Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, suggests eating more fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese and drinking fermented dairy products such as kefir to get the maximum health benefits. .
Research has shown that these dairy products reduce the risk of death and cardiovascular disease. This may be because they contain probiotics which help regulate body weight and insulin levels.
“It may also help explain why consumption of cheese, which is the dairy product that tends to be the highest in fat, is also associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke,” Mozaffarian said. But like any recommendation, experts advise to temper the consumption of high-fat dairy products in moderation. Whole dairy products contain more calories, so limit your intake to a few servings a day. Watch the sugar content of the yogurt you buy, and instead of choosing flavored brands, add your own fruit or vanilla for extra flavor.
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