I get it. Some days it can feel like being healthy is all about the “no.”
No added sugars? No way.
Empty carbs. Unh unh.
And fats. Never.
Which is why I love it when I can give you a “yes.”
Now if you’ve been reading Healthier Talk for any length of time, this particular yes is one you’ve likely run across before. New research has confirmed what we’ve been telling you for years. Which is “Yes, eating full-fat dairy is fine.”
And it’s not just the chemicals or trans fats that you find in the fake stuff such as non-dairy creamers and butter substitutes that make the real deal a better choice. The skim and low-fat dairy often isn’t the best option either. (More on those a bit later.)
Full-fat dairy doesn’t harm heart health
In fact, according to researchers, full-fat dairy foods are actually good for you.
All the way back in 1992 researchers from the University of Texas, Houston, started tracking a group of nearly 3000 volunteers over the age of 65. They kept track of their health status and diet, including their dairy intake, for 13 years.
What they found shocked many folks. But not us. Around here we couldn’t resist saying “I told you so.”
For decades, full-fat dairy has been on the “no” list. Eating it was supposed to drive up our cholesterol, clog our arteries and cause heart disease.
But it turns out the data says different. Eating and drinking full-fat dairy isn’t associated with higher rates of heart attack, stroke, or any other “cardiovascular event.”
Full-fat dairy slashed stroke risk 42%
In fact, one specific fat found in whole milk and other full-fat dairy products, heptadecanoic acid, was associated with a 42 percent LOWER risk of a devastating stroke.
But this isn’t even the only evidence that full fat dairy isn’t the monster it’s been cast as. Far from it. Three other major studies have already come to the same conclusion.
Back in 2016, researchers from Harvard University thought they had finally put the high-fat dairy question to bed.
In a massive meta-analysis, they crunched the numbers from three other ground-breaking health studies: the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Nurses’ Health Study II.
No link between full-fat dairy & heart disease
It represented decades of research, and included data from nearly a quarter of a million people. And the Harvard team concluded there was no link between full-fat dairy and an increased risk of heart disease. None.
So, how did full-fat dairy get such a bad rap over the years? Two reasons.
- The studies that linked fat to cardiovascular disease were flawed from the beginning
- Unhealthy foods such as crackers made of refined flour, sugary jellies like you find in “fruit” yogurts or sweetened syrups such as in coffee drinks are often served with full-fat dairy
And those low-fat, skim and fat-free dairy foods that are supposed to be healthier typically aren’t. Because when food manufacturers remove fat, sugar levels become more concentrated. Which means skim milk, for example, is much more likely to cause your blood sugar to spike.
Drop low fat and embrace full-fat again
Plus low-fat and fat-free foods are often unappetizing, because let’s face it fat tastes good. So to make them more palatable manufacturers often add even more sugar and chemical flavorings
The bottom line is it’s time to ditch the fake stuff and the tasteless fat-free options too. Embrace full-fat dairy again instead. And the next time you order your iced coffee, look the barista right in the eye and ask for whole milk. Not only will it taste better, it’ll be better for you!