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What's the skinny on whole milk dairy?

Low fat, skim milk it's healthier for us, right? Not exactly.

Yes, we have been told that dairy products that contain less fat are healthier for us, but that isn't the case. Naturally all dairy products contain fat. Some more than others. Take the photo above, it is freshly made mozzarella cheese. One of the cheeses that contains less fat. But it still contains fat, which isn't a bad thing. There is always fat in dairy products and for good reason.

In the photo below you have aging Parmesano Reggiano cheese, a fattier cheese. A good rule of thumb is that the harder cheeses tend to be on the fattier side, and the fresh cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta on the less naturally fattier side. 

Now let's get back to this low-fat, no fat, skim milk movement that has occurred. The fat in the dairy products is meant to be beneficial. Think about it, a baby first drinks/eats mothers breast milk, filled with good fat rich nutrient dense fats. To help the baby human or animal grow and be healthy. These fats are of good quality for nourishment. 

When we remove the fat of dairy products we remove a lot of the nutritional value of the product. When we do this, especially when it is skim 0% milk or cheese we are basically eating empty calories. Yes, we will receive a small amount vitamins and minerals, but mainly it is empty calories. What do I mean by empty calories? Empty calories means, calories without any benefit to your health. What happens is that when we eat or drink low-fat or fat-free dairy products we are just ingesting the lactose, or dairy sugars without the fat. This is BAD! Lactose isn't bad, it is the natural form of dairy sugar, but what is bad is that the low-fat and fat-free dairy items don't have the nutritional fat to accompany it during digestion. This causes an insulin spike and glucose (blood sugar) to rise in the body. Which we know that high levels of glucose in the blood often can lead to Type II diabetes. 

Another reason why low-fat and fat-free dairy products aren't good for our health and cause the blood sugar to rise after consuming it, is because the lack of fat in the product makes the dairy product just sugar, which means empty calories. Dairy without fat or very little fat actually doesn't leave one very satisfied. Eating a full-fat piece a cheese versus a fat-free piece of cheese is like night and day. The fat in the full fat will leave you feel satiated, while the fat-free piece of cheese yes may leave you slightly satisfied, but for a much shorter time period. Which then causes you to become hungry or unsatisfied and leads to eating more, and potentially gaining weight. The fact that there is zero to little fat in low- fat dairy products means that you are bound to overeat. You will seek out food to crush your hunger, and the foods people typically go for are simple carbohydrates, which just adds to the spike in blood sugar levels. Are you seeing a vicious cycle here? 

The palatability of full-fat dairy leaves what is called a mouth coat. Think about when you eat ice cream, how it coats your mouth. The coating of the mouth comes from the fat and cream. This is actually a pleasurable thing when eating. Genetically we are meant to want this in certain foods, especially dairy products. Why? Because it means we are eating nutrients, and in this case, fat is the nutrient. Fat isn't a bad nutrient. Too much of it, yes, too much of the wrong kind, yes, but good quality dairy in moderation is a good thing. If we continue to eat fat-free or low-fat dairy it has the potential to cause serious health concerns. Fat in dairy products leaves us satisfied, we actually won't eat that much because fat is dense which makes us fuller by eating less of the food item, and it is naturally meant to be in the product so we shouldn't be messing with what nature is giving us. 

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