Skim milk or whole? Non-fat yogurt or full-fat? For decades, public health officials have treated these decisions as no-brainers. Cut the dairy fat, they’ve maintained, and you’ll sidestep calories without missing out on good stuff like calcium and protein. But they might have been wrong…
A recent review published in the European Journal of Nutrition of the existing research on dairy fat came to some surprising conclusions: People who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who stick to low-fat dairy. When it comes to weight gain, full-fat dairy may actually be better for you, the review found.
“In terms of obesity, we found no support for the notion that low-fat dairy is healthier,” Of the 25 studies included in the team 18 reported lower body weights, less weight gain, or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters.
A 2013 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care tracked the dairy intake and obesity rates of more than 1,500 middle-aged and older adults. Those who frequently ate full-fat butter, milk, and cream had lower obesity rates than those who eschewed dairy fat. “Based on researches, high-fat dairy is less likely to contribute to obesity that low-fat dairy,”
How could something with more calories be better for your waistline? – Not all calories are equal—especially when it comes to weight gain. Also, focusing on calories-per-serving largely ignores a mammoth factor when it comes to obesity: fullness. The fatty acids that are stripped out of reduced-fat dairy may help you feel full sooner and stay full longer—meaning you’ll eat less now and in the coming hours.
But if you’re deciding between skim milk and whole milk, you may be better off grabbing the full-fat stuff.