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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