Recently I have been seeing nutrition experts ranking full fat milk lower than skim milk for health. This frustrates me as I have been going on about this topic for 15 years or more!

Over the years studies have been confiming the safety and health of full fat dairy, over and over.

In a study called Dairy Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: Do We Really Need to be Concerned? Published in the Foods journal in March 2018 they concluded:

“Several meta-analyses point to the resounding conclusion that, although dairy products contain a high SFA (saturated fatty acid) content, their consumption induces a positive or neutral effect on human cardiovascular health. In addition, consumption of full-fat dairy products contributes to higher intakes of significant nutrients, in particular vitamin D and vitamin K. Considering current scientific evidence, after years of controversy the negative image of milk fat is weakening. Therefore, consumers can continue to moderately consume full-fat dairy products as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, however fermented dairy products would be preferential for optimum nutrient intake and potential cardiovascular health benefits.”

In a letter published in Harvard Health: Less heart disease in people with a dairy-rich diet? published 1 December 2021 – the author refers to a Swedish study: 

“For the study, researchers measured blood levels of a fatty acid found mostly in dairy foods in 4,150 60-year‑olds in Sweden, a county known for its love of dairy-based foods. After an average follow-up of 16.6 years, they found that people with the highest levels of the fatty acid had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. The study authors confirmed these findings after combining the Swedish results with similar data from the United States, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. The study was published in the Sept. 21, 2021, issue of PLOS Medicine.”

“While the findings don’t prove that dairy fat protects against cardiovascular problems, it suggests that full-fat dairy products may be less harmful to heart health than experts have assumed.”

An editorial called Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in August 2017 it is explained that the risk of LDL cholesterol has been exaggerated. The authors (one of whom is a Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra) said that “It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids and reducing dietary saturated fat. Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 min a day and eating real food. There is no business model or market to help spread this simple yet powerful intervention”.

 

In my personal opinion, one of the many drivers of osteoporosis has been the the recommendations to avoid the fat in dairy, eggs and meat.

 

 

If you eat good quality full fat dairy products such as yoghurt (any other fermented dairy eg kefir), full fat milk and cheese as parf of a healthy, balanced real food diet, you will get the benefits of all of those nutrients. Saturated fat is required to get calcium into your bones. The fat also helps you to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K which are important for bone health, heart health and much more.

The only reason to avoid full fat dairy is if your tummy cannot absorb it such as some people without a gall bladder (the nutrients will not likely be absorbed if it goes straight through you)!

 I chatted to Stephen Cenatiempo on 2CC Talking Canberra about full fat vs low fat milk, you can listen below:

References:

Lordan R, Tsoupras A, Mitra B, Zabetakis I. Dairy Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: Do We Really Need to be Concerned? Foods. 2018 Mar 1;7(3):29. doi: 10.3390/foods7030029. PMID: 29494487; PMCID: PMC5867544.

 

Harvard Health: Less heart disease in people with a dairy-rich diet? published 1 December 2021 – https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/less-heart-disease-in-people-with-a-dairy-rich-diet

Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P. Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Aug;51(15):1111-1112. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097285. Epub 2017 Apr 25. PMID: 28442474.

 

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