Surprise! Whole Milk Is Good For You

Posted on February 24, 2014

Most dietitians, physicians, and health experts recommend avoiding whole milk since it’s high in saturated fat and a large portion of the calories come from sugars. Because whole milk has more fat than other types of milk (skim, 1%, 2%, etc.), it’s often associated with weight gain and other negative health effects like increased cholesterol.

This connection however is not true. Some studies have shown that whole milk can actually improve cholesterol levels and it’s a good source of Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Phosphorus. Two recent studies by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health support this contradictory idea that consumption of full-fat dairy products leads to a lower risk of obesity.

You can find them here:

Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health spoke with Jon White of the New Scientist about this subject:

What do you make of the suggestions that eating full-fat dairy products means you are less likely to pile on the pounds?
The findings for body weight shouldn’t be too surprising as many studies have not supported the idea that fat in the diet is specifically related to greater fat in our bodies. The idea that all fats are bad still persists in the minds of many people, despite layers of evidence that this is not true. If anything, low fat/high carbohydrate diets seem to be related to greater long-term weight gain.

Where did the idea that full-fat dairy is bad for you originate?
This concept emerged in the 1950s and 60s when it was shown that saturated fat increased blood cholesterol levels. Because dairy fat has high saturated fat content (about 65 per cent), it was deemed to be harmful. Also, in the 1950s US physiologist Ancel Keys and his colleagues showed that areas with high consumption of saturated fat, largely from dairy fat, had much higher rates of heart disease than the Mediterranean countries, where dairy consumption is lower.

Based on this research, the thought of whole milk being better for you than skim milk is only contradictory if you accept the conventional wisdom that eating fat makes you gain weight. Eating too many unhealthy carbohydrates can make you gain weight, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease. Unhealthy carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods are not your friend.

Unlike eating unhealthy carbohydrates or even protein, eating fat will not directly make you gain weight. Eating fat doesn’t spike your blood insulin levels and insulin regulates fat storage.

So now you know! Whole milk is your friend, unless you’re lactose intolerant…