Think whole, full-fat milk leads to a full-fat waistline? Think again. Recent research concludes that consuming whole-fat dairy is actually linked to reduced body fat.
One study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, looked at obesity rates in over 1,700 men age 40-60 years old over a period of 12 years. The study found that the men who consumed high-fat milk, butter, and cream had lower rates of developing obesity compared to those who rarely or never consumed high-fat dairy.
And another paper, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, looked at data from 16 different studies that examined the relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disease. The researchers didn’t find data supporting the hypothesis that a diet of high-fat dairy foods contributes to obesity and heart disease risk. In fact, 11 of the 16 studies showed a link between high-fat dairy and a lower risk of obesity.
Executive vice president of the National Dairy Council Greg Miller tells NPR of one possible explanation, saying “There may be bioactive substances in the milk fat that may be altering our metabolism in a way that helps us utilize the fat and burn it for energy, rather than storing it in our bodies.”
It could also have to do simply with satiety — higher levels of fat in food make us feel fuller, perhaps causing us to eat less as a result.
Whatever it is, it seems milk consumption is trending towards the whole-fat variety. CEO of Organic Valley George Siemon tells NPR that his company’s sales of whole-fat milk are up 10 percent—and sales of skim milk are falling.
What’s in your fridge—are you a whole milk fan, or are you sticking to skim until there’s more evidence in favor of high-fat dairy?