Of all the foods and drinks that were considered unhealthy in the past years, many are now seeing a healthy renaissance. Recent studies have touted the benefits of wine, chocolate, and even caffeine. As with the aforementioned foods, until recently many doctors and nutritionists condemned whole milk as harmful. Today, though, numerous studies are showing the benefits of healthy fats in whole milk vs. skim milk. If you’re confused about what’s best for you, read on to find out whether healthy fats are the way to go.
Research Builds a Strong Case for Healthy Fats in Whole Milk
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that participants who consumed high-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, butter, and cheddar cheese, had about a 60 percent lower risk of developing adult-onset diabetes than those who opted for skim milk and fat-free yogurt.
Another study suggests that a high intake of low fat or skim milk can impair a woman’s ability to ovulate, while the intake of high-fat dairy foods can improve female fertility. So if you’re currently pregnant or are planning for a baby, you should stick to drinking whole milk for the benefits of its healthy fat. Additional studies for men suggest that skim milk can promote the onset of male prostate cancer, while whole milk can help prevent it.
There’s no doubt that there are many studies in which the research favors skim milk over whole milk; however, the benefits of whole milk are, nutritionally, superior to skim milk.
Healthy Fats for Weight Management
Among those focused on losing or maintaining weight, the popular choice is skim milk. After all, it’s been widely proclaimed by the USDA for years that skim milk is far healthier than whole milk. Whole milk carries 8 grams of fat and nearly 150 calories per glass, while skim milk is virtually fat-free and contains only about 90 calories. But when it comes to losing weight, restricting calories and fat doesn’t guarantee success in and of itself; sometimes, these methods even work against weight loss. Healthy nutrition is also essential.
Contrary to common belief, the whole fat in milk actually helps with healthy weight loss. According to Dr. J.R. Crewe at the Mayo Clinic, the healthy fats in milk can help to lower cholesterol, reduce chronic fatigue, improve urinary tract problems, and numerous other conditions.
For those who worry about the fat content in whole milk, Walt Willet wrote in the American Journal of Medicine that “foods high in fat do not appear to be the primary cause of the high prevalence of excess body fat in our society, and reductions in fat will not be a solution.” Willet’s study analyzed the weight and milk consumption of 12,829 kids ages 9 to 14 from across the country and found that, contrary to their hypothesis, “skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not.” The results of the study also suggest that the conjugated linoleic acid in whole milk can help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass, which aids in weight loss.
Lastly, nutrition studies have shown that one primary difference between whole milk and skim is that, aside from containing healthy fat, whole milk naturally contains more vitamins and nutrients. Because of the processing involved in getting whole milk skim, most of the nutrients and vitamins are also removed. Any nutritional elements in skim milk are artificially added back.
The Whole Truth about Whole Milk
With all the conflicting studies and information out there, it’s hard to decide if you prefer whole vs. skim milk. Calorie for calorie, skim milk is definitely the lighter choice. However, if you’re looking at the whole picture, in terms of healthy fats, an abundance of nutrients, nutritional balance and and all of their associated benefits, then whole milk is the way to go. Whole milk is an excellent and healthy addition to a clean and balanced diet.