Nutrition Tip of the Week

Nutrition Tip of the Week

Full-Fat vs Fat-Free Dairy

Written by: Samantha McCarthy, MS, RD/LDN

One of the new and hot topics in the nutrition world is whether to choose full-fat vs. fat-free dairy. Current government recommendations state that we should choose fat-free and reduced-fat dairy whenever possible. Several recent studies have been released challenging that recommendation. Let’s talk about why.

One recommendation still holds strong: limit saturated fat intake. Dairy products like cheese, whole milk, sour cream, butter, cream, and yogurt are one of the largest sources of saturated fats in the American diet. Excess saturated fat intake can lead to increased cholesterol levels putting you at a higher risk for heart disease. So it only makes sense that we choose fat-free or reduced-fat dairy to decrease saturated fat intake.


But, opponents for this claim that full fat dairy can improve many chronic diseases such as diabetes and help manage weight. Recent studies have shown that people who consume full fat dairy, such as whole milk and whole milk yogurt, tend to weigh less and can manage their blood sugar better. That all sounds wonderful, but the media failed to report an important component of the study. When people switch from full-fat to low-fat or fat-free dairy, often they increase their consumption of processed carbohydrates. These processed carbohydrates can lead to high blood sugar and weight gain. If you switch to reduced or fat-free dairy and simultaneously increase intake of healthy fats (not processed carbohydrates) that leads to better blood sugar control and weight management.


The moral of the story: continue to consume fat-free or reduced-fat dairy but be sure you are consuming healthy fats like avocado, salmon, nuts, and vegetable oils, not processed carbohydrates like white breads, pastas, and snack foods. 


Prior Weeks Nutrition Tips:

Recipe of the Month:  Turkey Stuffed Peppers
Healthy Breakfasts for Your Children:  Part II
Healthy Breakfasts for Your Children:  Part I
Best Snacks to Pack for Traveling for Sports
Healthy Dorm Room Snacking
Recipe of the Month:  Zucchini Shrimp Scampi
Kombucha: Miracle Tea or Another Bogus Claim?

5 Steps to Maintain Your Weight on Vacation
Recipe of the Month - Cowboy Caviar
Food Planning for Summer Trips
Why Skipping Meals is Harming Your Weight Loss Efforts
Low Calorie Cocktails
Healthier BBQ Ideas
Safe Summer BBQs
Debunking Nutrition Myths:  Skipping Meals
Debunking Nutrition Myths:  Carbs are Bad for You
Defining Salt
Trans Fat:  The One Food to Avoid
Love Your Heart - Love Your Food!
Recipe of the Month - Turkey Chili
Following Through on Your Resolution
Nutrition Trends for 2017 - Algae
Nutrition Trends for 2017 - Rigatoni Pasta & More
Nutrition Trends for 2017 - Earth Friendly Burgers
Prior Nutrition Tips of the Week: Nutrition Trends for 2017 - Ancient Grains
Nutrition Trends for 2017:  Kale