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Are low-fat dairy products really healthy?

Check the dairy shelves of any grocery store, and you’ll find fat-free, low-fat, and full-fat dairy products. Question: Which is the healthiest option? If you consult the American Dietary Guidelines or health authorities like the American Heart Association or the World Health Organization, the answer is clear: choose the fat-free or low-fat version.

Outdated health recommendations

The recommendation stems from the idea that full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffrian, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Tufts University. So choosing low-fat dairy products can reduce your risk of heart disease. But, he adds, this guideline dates back to 1980, when the first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published.

Since then, most studies on the health effects of fat in dairy products have failed to find any evidence to favor low-fat products over full-fat products, Mozaffarian points out.

What seems more important than the fat content is the dairy product you choose first.

Research results

Mozaffarian said: In studies that examined people’s perceptions of their diets and tracked their health over several years, researchers found a link between dairy consumption and a lower risk of certain conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Whether people choose low-fat or full-fat yogurt, cheese or milk, such benefits are often present, he said.

Although full-fat dairy products are high in calories, studies show that people who consume them are less likely to gain weight.

For example, in a study published in 2018, researchers followed 136,000 adults from 21 countries for nine years. During the study period, they found that those who ate two or more servings of dairy products daily were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 17 percent less likely to die than those who did not eat dairy products.

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** People who eat full-fat dairy products are less likely to develop heart disease

Saturated fat, heart and diabetes

In particular, those who consumed the highest amount of saturated fat from dairy products were less likely to develop or die from heart disease. In another large analysis published in 2018, researchers pooled results from 16 studies involving more than 63,000 adults. They found that over an average of nine years, people with the highest levels of milk fat in their blood were 29 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

The finding suggests there may be a benefit to consuming dairy fats instead of avoiding them, Mozaffrian said. Of course, these studies cannot prove that dairy products alone reduce specific risks of disease.

He said this would require long-term clinical trials, which have not yet been conducted. But short-term trials showed that consuming dairy products, including full-fat milk, lowered participants’ blood pressure and did not increase weight or “bad cholesterol” (LDL) levels. This again indicates that milk fats are not harmful to the body.

Benefits of Yogurt and Cheese Fats

Why dairy fats are good for you. Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Ronald Krause says there are several possible explanations for why dairy fats are not as harmful as previously thought, and may even be healthy.

Among the different types of saturated fat found in foods, dairy products contain some types that are neutral or have health benefits associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, says Krause.

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For her part, Marie-Caroline Michalski, director of research at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, says: Milk fat is naturally packaged in a unique structure called the globular membrane of milk fat. Components of this structure help bind cholesterol in the digestive tract; This leads to improvement in blood cholesterol levels.

** Yoghurt and cheese are highly associated with health benefits

Michalski added: It’s also become clear that some types of dairy are better for you than others. For example, yogurt and cheese seem to be highly associated with health benefits, and since they’re both fermented foods, they can provide good bacteria for your gut. These products also contain other beneficial molecules produced during fermentation, including vitamin K, which is linked to heart health, Mozaffrian said. Hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan also cause fat to be absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly than soft cheeses and butter; This will help you feel fuller longer, Michalski says.

Forthcoming nutrition reviews and guidelines

An independent panel of nutrition experts is currently reviewing the evidence on how saturated fat consumption affects heart disease risk, said Penny Chris-Etherton, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University. He added that this could lead to changes in dairy product recommendations in the US. Until then, he believes it’s best to eat three dairy products daily as part of a balanced diet, according to current dietary guidelines.

However; Based on the latest dairy fat data, one or two of those may include whole milk, yogurt or cheese, adding more calories than that.

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For Mozaffarian, he recommends adding at least one or two servings of yogurt and cheese daily. Because of the health benefits of these foods – it’s best to avoid added sugar unsweetened. As for the fat content you should eat, “choose whatever you want,” according to Mozaffarian. Although some studies indicate that eating full-fat dairy products may have benefits, “I don’t think the evidence is yet sufficient to support this dietary recommendation.”

Loss of fat vitamins

Michalski prefers plain, full-fat yogurt. He says: When you remove natural fats, you lose some vitamins like vitamins A and D, and you also lose “flavor” and good texture.

Chris Etherton encourages people to use vegetable oils such as olive, canola or soybean oil, or butter made from the same oils, instead of butter, while butter and cream raise blood cholesterol levels more than other sources of fat, says Cross. Products are recommended to control if you suffer from excess fat.

Although there isn’t good evidence that low-fat dairy products are the healthiest choice for everyone, people respond differently to different foods. If you suffer from high blood cholesterol, it may be helpful to discuss your dairy options with your doctor, she said.

* The New York Times Service

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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