Got Milk? Whole-Fat vs. Non-Fat Dairy


By: StacyAtZeel

Most supermarket shoppers know the basics of good health when persuing the dairy aisle. But when it comes to those individuals who aren’t on a diet or trying to lose weight, how important is it to choose low-fat products versus the whole-fat ones? The answer isn’t as straight forward as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’


As Zeel Nutrition Expert Natasha Uspensky notes, “There are several, contradictory answers to this question, but in general, dairy should be consumed in moderation. If you are not looking to lose weight, and want to consume moderate amounts of dairy, there are definitely more health benefits to consuming raw, whole-fat dairy products, rather than low-fat or non-fat.


Natasha adds that whole-fat dairy products can often be more satiating than their low-fat counterparts, ultimately preventing overeating. (Though she cautions: “Regular consumption of any kind of dairy has been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer and other health problems, so again, moderate consumption is best!”)


National Dairy Council contributing blogger and registered dietitian Kristi Spence wants you to know the facts. As she explains in this blog post, ”Scientists are discovering that our firmly held views on saturated fatty acids may be too simplistic and that fatty-acid profiles differ based on their incorporation into various foods.” What this means is that the types and effects of fat vary from one dairy product to the next, whether cheese or butter or milk.


Kristi continues, “When evaluated as part of a whole food, we see that interactions between various nutrients impact the way dietary fat is digested, absorbed and utilized. We also see that different fat-containing foods impact cardiovascular disease risk in different ways.”


At the end of the day, however, many professionals in the nutrition field will still continue to condone the consumption of whole-fat dairy products for a host of reasons. One of them? Calories! Zeel Nutrition Expert Alyssa Chicci explains that the excess calories in whole-fat milk can quickly add up.


“There are 150 calories in eight ounces of whole milk as compared to 100 calories in eight ounces of one percent low-fat milk,” Alyssa explains. “Even if you’re not overweight, the extra 150 calories per day would equal an extra 1,050 calories per week. [Ed. Note: Woah!] You could slowly pack on the pounds, for a total of a 17-pound weight gain in a year, if you didn’t compensate by lowering your calorie intake somewhere else in your diet.”