Whole-Fat Dairy Better than Low-Fat for Weight Goals

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

In two separate 2013 studies, researchers in Europe and the U.S. concluded that regular, high-fat dairy is better for you, and specifically less likely than low-fat dairy to cause abdominal fat and increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In one study, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington conducted a systematic review of previous medical studies on the relationship between dairy fat consumption and cardiometabolic risk factors. Such factors include obesity/overweight, high blood sugar, hypertension, inflammation, thick blood, and abnormal blood fat metabolism. These factors serve as indicators of risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The review found no evidence supporting the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk, and suggested that intake of high-fat dairy within a typical dietary pattern is not associated with obesity risk.

Meanwhile, a study involving nearly 1600 Swedish men aged 40 to 60 also found that a low intake of dairy fat (based on no butter and low-fat milk) was associated with a higher risk of developing belly fat than high consumption dairy fat.

 My Viewpoint: For years I’ve been telling patients and whoever will listen to ignore the low-fat hype and advice to avoid fat like a plague. It was always a fad in my opinion based on distortions of science… Nutritional nonsense! We need healthy, natural fat in our diet. It’s actually important for our heart, brain, and the rest of the body.

 What This Means to You: Don’t be bamboozled by the low-fat or no-fat advertising pitch that has tarred-and-feathered dairy fat because it is energy-rich and contains cholesterol and saturated fat. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are not destroyers of heart health! What typically happens is that people who follow a low-fat diet replace the fat with carbohydrates that stoke inflammation and long-term weight gain. Many low-fat products, such as low-fat yogurt, are packed with calories from sugar and artificial sweeteners. Moreover, full fat provides a feeling of satisfaction, and low fat doesn’t. You’ll likely eat less of it.

 My Recommendation: To help your heart, improve your overall health, and keep your weight down, eat and drink the original whole-fat version of dairy foods and skip the low- or no-fat substitutes. Go for organic products in order to reduce your exposure to residues of pesticides, insecticides, hormones, and antibiotics that are likely to be found in conventional products containing saturated fat.

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