Why Whole Milk is the Healthiest Choice

I drink whole milk and eat full-fat yogurt, cream cheese, and sour cream. Sure, full-fat dairy products taste better than the skim/fat-free versions, but I don’t eat them for the taste. I eat full-fat dairy because it’s better for my health and my weight.

Yep, you heard me right: I eat dairy products with all the fat god gave ‘em, and I do it because it’s good for me.

Here’s why:

1. Our bodies cannot digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat.

2. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble. So you can’t absorb them from milk when all the fat has been skimmed off. (This makes fortified skim milk the biggest sham of all — you can pump fat-free milk full of a year’s supply of vitamins A and D, but the body can’t access them).

3. Milk fat contains glycosphingolipids, types of fats linked to immune system health and cell metabolism.

4. Contrary to popular belief, low-fat and fat-free diets do not help prevent heart disease (see my last blog post), and science has now revealed that the link between saturated fat (long villainized as a cause of heart disease) and heart disease is tenuous at best.

5. In fact, studies now show that eating saturated fat raises good cholesterol — the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body.

6. The world’s healthiest foods are whole foods — foods that have not been processed. Why? The nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another — that is, they work best in and are most beneficial to the body when they are taken together (not when they are isolated in, say, beta-carotene supplements of Vitamin C capsules). So when you pull some or all of the fat out of milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of whack. Basically, you discard all of the health benefits when you discard the fat.

7. And last but definitely not least: healthy dietary fat will NOT make you fat. We’ve been taught for years that dietary fat is the root of all evil (again, see my last post). But we need healthy fat in our diet for proper body composition and long-term weight maintenance. The key factor here is knowing the difference between good fats and bad fats (for more on good and bad fats and the role healthy fat plays in weight maintenance, see Weight Loss Rules to Rethink).

A final note: When it comes to whole milk, you should also drink nonhomogenized when you can. Homogenization is “the technique of crushing milkfat globules into droplets too small to rise to the surface in a cream layer,” writes Anne Mendelson in Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages (Knopf, 2008). Homogenization offered two big advantages to the dairy industry: (1) the abolition of the “creamline,” as it’s called, made it possible to package milk in more convenient [read: disposable] cardboard packaging instead of traditional glass bottles and (2) homogenizing made it possible for a commercial dairy to “calculate the amount of fat in incoming milk, completely remove it, and homogenize it back into milk in any desired proportion…In effect, ‘whole milk’ could now be whatever the industry said it was.”

To put it more bluntly: homogenized whole milk isn’t whole. The dairy-processing industry decided that whole milk should be milk with 3.25% fat (raw milk straight from the cow averages between 4 – 5.5% fat). That way, no matter what cow produced the milk, after homogenization all the milk would taste the same.

When you buy homogenized milk, you’re buying a whole food that isn’t whole — it’s had it’s fat removed, evened out, and injected back into it in an amount less than what appears in nature. So choose whole milk, skip homogenization, and enjoy!

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelifemag.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter.

By Laine Bergeson, Experience Life


Aubrae Felgate
Brae F5 years ago

I LOVE milk. Skim, 2%, 3%, cream etc...if it comes out of a cow I'm drinking it. 3% milk is my favorite though because after baby formula that is what I was raised on. Here I am now 25 years old still drinking my 3% and it doesn't make you fat. If anything it builds muscle or at least tat is what I find with me. It's rich, creamy and pure tasting. Get organic if you can!!!

Rachel K.
Rachel K5 years ago

So, where do I find nonhomoginized whole milk?

Ritchard Mckie
Ritchard Mckie5 years ago

Is skim milk still best for losing weight?

Laura T.
Laura T5 years ago

I love whole milk but being single I keep soy milk as well as it takes forever to spoil. the best milk is whole unprocessed&its worth it if you can get it&use it all before it spoils

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert5 years ago

Fascinating info. Thanks

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey5 years ago

Wonderful article.

Michelle Ross
Michelle Ross5 years ago

I agree and thank you for getting the info out there. The only thing I would like to point out is that the natural fat content of milk changes as to what breed of cows it's from. Friesian cows produce around the 3% butterfat where Jersey cows produce 4% and higher. Picky I know but I'm an ex dairy farmer :-)

Dean K.
Dean K.6 years ago

True, this is the way God intended things to be. He would not have created it that way otherwise.

Lou Ann Watson
Lou Ann Watson6 years ago

whole milk all the way...if you don't consume a moderate amount each day, what does it matter?
restricting refined carbs is much more effective in keeping the extra fat at bay. and vegans, go to a board where someone cares, your proselytizing makes Jehovah's Witnesses seem tame. eat what you want, but leave the rest of us alone

John M.
John M.6 years ago

i would recommend 2% milk, because it contains the good fat in it. in homo milk it contains bad fat and good fat. but in 2% they take out some fat but leave some behind..For more information about fitness and nutritional products visit stayfitnutrition website.