For years, experts have been telling us that full-fat dairy products like whole milk are loaded with scary saturated fats and the low-fat dairy options like skim milk are better for us. But recent research suggests that full-fat dairy may actually be healthier than and more beneficial than previously thought.
The new research, published in The Lancet, found that people who eat full-fat dairy aren’t any more likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who opted for the low-fat versions. In fact, they might even be less likely to pack on the pounds.
The observational study compiled data from about 136,000 adults across 21 countries on five continues. None of the participants had a history of heart disease, and they all completed detailed surveys, answering questions about type and frequency of dairy intake.
The study found that dairy consumptions — no matter what kind — was good for you. Those who consumed at least two servings of dairy per day had a lower mortality rate (3.4% vs 5.6%), and they were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Among those who ate only full-fat dairy, they had lower mortality rates than people who consumed little-to-no dairy (3.3% vs. 4.4%).
The research suggests that eating dairy of any kind is beneficial to lowering the risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
“About three servings of dairy a day is associated with a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease,” said study co-author Mahshid Dehghan, nutritional epidemiology researcher at the Population Health Research Institute in Canada.
The USDA recommends eating three servings of dairy per day, but the guidelines specify that these selections should be fat-free or low-fat.
However, the new research has limitations. Countries surveyed tended to be low- or middle-income, which may mean citizens might possibly stand to benefit from the extra nutrition. Also, there wasn’t much data for people who consumed more than three servings.
But the research adds valuable perspective to a growing body of work that suggests that full-fat products or “regular” products, are better for you than their supposedly healthier alternatives.
Also see, Where to get free food on your birthday.