Over the last decade one of the biggest changes to our food supply has been the increased availability of low fat and low calorie “diet foods”. These products now litter the aisles of supermarkets providing a huge array of selection for once simple staple food groups.
Dairy milk is an example of a staple food group that now appears in many forms. Low fat, no fat, full cream, lactose free, homogenized, un-homogenized, A2 just to name a few. It’s difficult to believe that once upon a time milk was just milk. Amazingly, it’s the reduced fat and skim varieties that are now outselling full cream milk in Australia. This really shouldn’t be a surprise however, given the flood of mainstream advice and many weight loss diets promoting low calorie and low fat choices. But has this lead to any improvements in health you ask? Good question!
The Milk paradox
A quick scan of current research on dairy products yields some interesting results. Studies comparing reduced fat and full cream dairy milk in relation to weight and cardiovascular health have failed to demonstrate any positive effects of switching to reduced fat milk.
In fact research has shown that those who consume full cream dairy products, compared to low fat dairy eaters, seem to weigh less and have improved markers of heart health. On the surface this seems like a paradox and has left many scratching their heads looking for an explanation. It is also contrary to the current stance of the Heart Foundation.
One possible explanation for these surprising health benefits is the nutrients found in butter fat. Butter fat (found in full cream dairy products) is a natural source of key nutrients, including Vitamin A and Vitamin D- both lacking in our food supply. Adding food to our diet that is nutrient dense tends to lead not only in improved health, but also weight loss.
Another key factor is the satiety level of full cream milk. How much more satisfied do you feel after a glass of full cream milk compared to a glass of skim milk? A lot!
The more satiated you feel after a meal or snack, the less you are likely to eat for the rest of the day. Therefore the satiety that comes from full cream dairy may lead to reduced intake of other foods.
Whichever way you look at it, research consistently points towards the benefits of full cream dairy products over reduced and skim varieties. It provides your body with more nutrients and leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of the day!