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.
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Healthy Breakfasts for Your Children: Part I
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Nutrition Trends for 2017: Kale