With the enormous rise of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the last few decades, low-fat dairy has gained a lot of publicity as a healthier variant of full-fat milk products. Although it packs lower fat content, low and non-fat dairy may not be the healthiest choice when it comes to milk and milk products.
Fats are normally considered the dietary culprits by many people, even though natural fats, like those found in full-fat raw dairy, are actually health beneficial. For one thing, dairy fat packs high content of oleic acid, the compound that accounts for the numerous health benefits of olive oil, as well as a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that possibly stimulates weight loss.
A recent study led by Harvard researcher and pediatrician, David Ludwig, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, reveals that low-fat milk and dairy products are in fact a major misconception as these contain added health-compromising sweeteners, while raw, organic milk offers more health benefits.
On the other hand, there’s been mounting evidence that confirms the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, diabetes, inflammatory-related pain, and more. To raise awareness against the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners upon health, several organizations including the US Department of Agriculture and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend against consumption of sugary drinks.
However, the same organizations are still strongly promoting one low-calorie beverage – reduced-fat milk, whose recommended intake is 3 cups a day. It’s recommendations of this kind that make Ludwig question the scientific justification behind them.
“This recommendation to drink three cups a day of milk – it’s perhaps the most prevailing advice given to the American public about diet in the last half century. As a result, Americans are consuming billions of gallons of milk a year, presumably under the assumption that their bones would crumble without them,” argues David Ludwig.
According to Ludwig, if the USDA is promoting low-fat milk, at the same time it’s unintentionally encouraging the consumption of added sugars found in low-fat milk or chocolate milk. And, most people are deluded by this thinking that they are cutting down fats, when they’re actually replacing them with dangerous sugars.
“The worst possible situation is reduced-fat chocolate milk: you take out the fat, it’s less tasty. So to get kids to drink 3 cups a day, you get this sugar-sweetened beverage,” says Ludwig. ”…we can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods. On a gram for gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk. Sardines, nuts seeds beans, green leafy vegetables are all sources of calcium.”
Furthermore, a number of new studies provide substantial evidence that moderate consumption of saturated fat found in milk, coconut oil, and grass-fed land animals, is not harmful, but actually beneficial for overall health. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease].”
On the other hand, the health benefits of drinking full-fat dairy products are numerous. When this full-fat milk is consumed in its purest state – raw, organic, and coming from grass-fed cattle, it promote your health on several levels – it reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, it stimulates vitamin absorption, it cuts the risk of bowel cancer, and last, but not least, it promotes weight loss.
So, the next time you opt for conventional dairy, make sure you inspect carefully what’s in it.