Low fat or Full fat? Do you want the ‘whole’ truth?

BrooklynMilk_Preview_960Over the last two decades the media has been pushing it down our brains (and consequently down our throats!) – Whole milk is full fat and that it is bad for you. “To stay healthy and slim, go SKIM” seemed to be the golden mantra. Well, don’t be so sure! Like all myths (yes this is one!) this one was just awaiting the time when it would be busted.  And so finally now it’s time to bust the myths related to the different types of milk and take a closer look at ‘good whole‘ milk :).

Myth#1: Whole milk has a lot of fat

Truth: Whole milk has only 3.5% fat.  Whole milk is ‘whole’ because it is — for lack of a better word — intact. “2 percent,” “1 percent,” and “nonfat milk” are not intact, because they’ve been stripped of some of their dairy fatwhich makes them less creamy. However, you will be surprised that whole milk is not even that much more calorific; it only has about 30 calories more per cup than 2 percent milk1.

Myth #2: Whole milk can make you fat

Truth: As stated before, whole milk has only 30 additional calories per cup than 2% hence consumption of whole milk (instead of skim or low fat milk) is not likely to result in weight gain.  In fact, some recent studies have shown that consumption of full fat milk (whole milk) was linked to reduced body fat and to a lower risk of obesity 2. It has also not been proven that consuming reduced fat milk can prevent weight gain. A 2010 study by Children’s hospital, Boston concluded that switching from whole milk to reduced-fat milk at 2 years did not appear to prevent weight problems in early childhood 3.

So what could be the association behind whole fat milk and reduced weight gain?. One possible (which sounds plausible) theory : Whole milk gives us a greater sense of satiety and hence we tend to eat less. For instance we don’t feel the need to have that additional cookie or snack, which incidentally could be loaded with sugar!

Myth #3: Whole milk can increase your cholesterol

Truth: Whole milk contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids which promotes cardiovascular health2. A study published in 2o14 found that higher intakes of whole fat milk, yogurt, and cheese were associated with better cardiovascular health 4. A systematic review published in 2012 showed that there was no association between the intake of dairy products and increased risk of CVD, coronary heart disease, and stroke, regardless of milk fat levels 5.  Organic whole milk has a higher omega-3 fatty acid content than regular whole milk and hence is more beneficial.

Bottom line: Stick to whole milk whether its for you or your kids.  I personally moved to whole milk about two years ago and did not gain any additional pounds by moving from skim to whole. My kids have  only had whole milk all these years and they are not overweight – far from it actually :). Of course, you do need to continue to eat a healthful diet with lots of vegetables and fruits and limit the amount of sugar. I say the new mantra should be “Stay Natural; Stick to Whole” !

1.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/10/03/whole-milk-is-actually-3-5-milk-whats-up-with-that/?tid=sm_fb 2.http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229928/ 4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25476191 5.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649459/

Picture Credit: I got this cute milk bottles picture from this site – http://work.repponen.com/Brooklyn-Milk

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  1. I really wish that more people were aware of this!! I have read many studies on this topic and I am in total agreement! Do you know how hard it is to buy anything but 0% yogurt? It drives me crazy! Sometimes I have to hit several stores before I can find full fat yogurt instead of the 0% stuff!

  2. Oh Indu, I get so excited when I see posts like this one! I am so totally in agreement with you… I’ve NEVER bought in to this low-fat dairy thing and no-one in our family has ever been overweight. We stay away from fast food and anything highly processed though… as much as possible is cooked from scratch using fresh and good quality ingredients. IMO the low-fat industry is a total sham. Thanks so very much for writing this article and getting your thoughts out there!

    • Thanks Aruna. Yes I agree fully with having full fat version of everything. And ghee is actually not bad at all. Our ancestors really knew what they were doing! It is sad that commercialization of everything brought the associated risks with it – which was basically the marketers trying to ‘educate’ us on what’s good or bad! Thanks for reading Aruna. I appreciate your comments!

  3. I couldn’t agree more! The same goes to all other “fat free” or “reduced fat” items. In most of them the industry adds starches/stabilizers to keep the texture without the fat, so it means more carbs and other additives…

    • Thanks Ronit. Yes , yes absolutely agree with you- all the low fat / no fat stuff is bad since they put stabilizers, additives etc. you are right – they add starch too! Thanks for reading and for your comments. Means a lot!

  4. Excellent post Indu!!! Mu husband revealed this truth to me sometime back and I totally switched back to whole milk!! Skim milk doesn’t help in weight loss or anything. Glad you brought this up 🙂

    • yes, Malar, it is so sad that all of us fall prey to the marketers! Everything should be consumed as close to the natural state as possible – that’s the mantra I have begun to follow. thanks so much for sharing your experience too!

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