A recent study (4) analysed the impact of full-fat milk versus low-fat milk consumption has on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors in Australian adolescents. Results found little difference between the groups – though there was greater impact on boy’s cardiovascular markers than on their female counterparts; perhaps due to a teenage boy’s insatiable appetite, especially for foods like dairy.
Interestingly, when assessing factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol markers, there was a slightly better association between full-fat consumption HDL-cholesterol levels – the ‘good’ cholesterol. Good news, right?
Well. It is important to note participants in the study were of higher socio-economic demographic (associated with better health outcomes) and lower body mass measurements (also associated with better health outcomes). Additionally, this study was funded by The Dairy Health and Nutrition Consortium Australia (so one might suspect positive results for any dairy consumption).
Regardless, there is a lot to be said about enjoying a full-fat alternative!
Low-fat vs Full-fat Anything
Let us consider any food in its whole, full-fat form. It is less likely to be processed, more easily recognised and digested by the body, and importantly, leave you feeling fuller for longer. This is great, because:
- It is closer to its natural form, and therefore more nutrient dense, making vitamins A, D, E and K more bioavailable
- It causes less immune and inflammatory reactions in the body when consumed
- It can curb sugar cravings, and the myriad of issues associated with increased sugar intake including energy slumps, brain fog, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease. (3, 5)
And let’s be honest – full-fat anything is often far more tasty!
However, the types of fats we eat do matter, which is the subject that warrants it’s own discussion. For now let’s get back to milk.
Milk, in general
You may have heard people question why it is we drink the milk designed for a baby of another species. Some may consider this odd. However, many cultures across the globe have been consuming milk and milk products from various animals for centuries, using the nutrient dense liquid to nourish and fill.
But not all cultures have consumed milk, historically. Therefore, some genetics could be behind a lowered tolerance for milk consumption, whilst poor gastrointestinal health or the quality of dairy being consumed could be the cause of that post-camembert bloat.
Whilst teenagers from the study above may have seen benefit in consumption of full-fat dairy products, this cannot be translated to every population group, such as those suffering from IBS, or folk traditionally from non-milk drinking cultures. (1,2) If milk is your drink of choice, buy organic, buy local, buy grass-fed, and buy milk as least processed as possible, to ensure you are getting all the nutritional goodies and satisfaction you desire.
- Better Health Channel 2016, ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome- IBS’, State Government of Victoria, viewed 10 February 2016, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs>
- Genetic Home Reference 2010, ‘Lactose Intolerance’, National Institutes of Health, viewed 10 February 2016, <http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance>
- Natella, S, Divan, V, Rana, M, & Mills, C 2013, ‘Sugar Consumption at a Crossroads’, Credit Suisse Research Institute, September, pp. 1-43
- O’Sullivan, T Bremner, A Mori, T Beilin, L Wilso, C Hafekost, K Ambrosini, G Huang, R and Oddy, W 2016 ‘Regular Fat and Reduced Fat Dairy Products Show Similar Associations with Markers of Adolescent Cardiometabolic Health’, Nutrients, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-16
- Sackner-Bernstein, J, Kanter, D, & Kaul, S 2015, ‘Dietary Intervention for Overweight and Obese Adults: Comparison of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets. A Meta-Analysis’, Plos One, vol. 10, no. 10, p. e013981