For the last 60 years, conventional medicine has been recommending non-fat or low-fat dairy products as it is believed that saturated fat led to heart disease.
However, this is old and misguided information. New studies show that there is NO significant evidence that saturated fat in the diet is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. (See below for the latest research.)
Moreover, if you have been eating non-fat or low-fat dairy products, you are missing out on the many health benefits that come with full-fat dairy.
New Light Shed On Saturated Fat
In early 2010, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released the result of 21 studies that analyzed nearly 348,000 healthy participants during a period of 5-23 years. The investigation found no difference in the risk of heart disease between individuals with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
What’s interesting is that in the last few decades, while doctors and nutritionists are recommending non-fat and low-fat foods, people have swapped their fat calories for additional sweeteners, especially high-fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates. The reason is food manufacturers often add more sugar to non-fat and low-fat foods to compensate for the loss of taste from the fat. Most people also end up eating more when they eat non-fat and low-fat foods.
In a study released in April 2010 (by Emory University and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention), it showed that sweeteners appear to lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and raise triglycerides (fat in blood), both of these effects increase the risk of heart disease.
What’s more, sugars and refined carbohydrates, through their direct effects on insulin and blood sugar, are probably the main dietary cause of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Science Shows Full-fat Dairy Has Many Health Benefits
The difference between full-fat, low-fat, and non-fat dairy is obviously the fat. So why is this fat good for us? Let’s look at what’s in the fat.
About 50-60 percent of the fat found in dairy foods is saturated fat. The rest includes oleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
For thousands of years, human beings have been eating saturated fat from animals. Saturated fat has many health advantages:
- It slows down absorption, evens out your blood sugar fluctuation, and helps you stay full longer.
- It acts as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- It is needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.
- It is the preferred fuel for your heart during energy expenditure.
- Caprylic acid in saturated fat is an useful antiviral agent.
- Lauric acid in saturated fat is an effective anti-carie, anti-plaque, and anti-fungal agent.
- Palmitic and stearic acids in saturated fat lower cholesterol levels.
- Butyric acid in saturated fat helps prevent cancer.
Oleic acid, or omega-9 fatty acid, is what makes olive oil so healthy:
- It improves the functioning of the heart and the circulatory system.
- It reduces the clogging and hardening of arteries.
- It reduces inflammation in the body.
- It helps to improve insulin sensitivity.
- It is rich in antioxidants and helps to inhibit cancerous growth.
- It helps to boost your immune system.
- It optimizes the functions of the brain and neurological transmission.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in ruminants (animals with four-part stomach and cud-chewing behavior) such as cattle, bison, goats, and sheep. The meat and milk from grass-fed ruminants are much richer in CLA than the meat and milk from corn- and grain-fed animals. CLA has amazing benefits for your body:
- It helps to destroy cancer cells and reduce tumors.
- It increases muscle growth.
- It promotes weight loss.
Hence, if you only eat low-fat or non-fat dairy products, you have missed out on the many health advantages that full-fat dairy gives you.
Many people believe that eating fat will make you fat. For the majority of the population, this is absolutely not the case. Most people actually need moderate to high amounts of healthy fats in their diet, though there is a minority of people whose body requires a low-fat diet. If you are interested in knowing your body type and what type of diet is right for you, please contact me for an online Metabolic Typing test.
In most cases, the real culprit to fat gain is carbohydrates (in particular, sugar and refined carbs), because if we eat more than the body needs, the excess carbohydrates is mostly stored as visceral fat beneath the wall of the abdominal muscles. Visceral fat was recently discovered to be a significant producer of hormones that are involved in diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized And Homogenized Milk
There are huge differences between pasteurized, homogenized, and raw milk. Let’s look at what each entails.
Pasteurization is a process of heating the milk to a high temperature (161ËF) for a short period of time (15-20 seconds) and then cooling it immediately. Pasteurized milk typically has a refrigerated shelf life of 2-3 weeks.
Ultra pasteurization is a process of heating the milk to 275ËF for at least a second. This ultra heat treatment further extends the shelf life of the milk, sometimes to 2-3 months. Aseptic-packaged milk can even be stored unrefrigerated for 6-9 months.
Inspection of dairy herds for disease is often not required for pasteurized milk, therefore, pasteurization is necessary to kill harmful bacteria that may result from sick cows. However, this process significantly impairs the biological value of the milk. Pasteurization:
- destroys enzymes,
- diminishes many vitamins and destroys vitamins B6, B12 and C,
- denatures fragile milk proteins, and
- kills beneficial bacteria (including lactobacillus and acidophilus) that are essential for your gut and immune system.
Homogenization is a process that breaks down the butterfat globules by forcing the milk through a series of screens at high pressure so that they become the same size particles as the rest of the milk. The resulting fat particles become so small they stay in suspension rather than rise to the top of the milk.
Some studies showed that homogenization makes the fat more susceptible to rancidity and oxidation and that homogenized fats may be one of the contributing factors to heart disease.
Raw milk, on the other hand, is milk that has not gone through pasteurization or homogenization and is in its most natural form. If the milk is from organically raised, grass-fed cows and is handled hygenically, there is little problem with disease and does not need pasteurization.
Raw milk contains many health-promoting ingredients that pasteurized and homogenized milk lacks:
- Valuable enzymes that help you digest the milk. People who have lactose intolerance usually find that they can drink raw milk without any problems.
- Phosphatase, an enzyme that aids in the absorption of calcium in your bones.
- Lipase, an enzyme that helps to absorb fats.
- Natural butterfat to help your body absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in the milk. Butterfat is your best source of preformed vitamin A and contains strong anti-carcinogenic properties. Unfortunately, the nature of the butterfat is changed once it has been homogenized.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to help fight cancer and reduce body fat. Grass-fed animals produce milk with substantially higher CLA content.
- Higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio which helps reduce inflammation in the body. Grass-fed animals produce milk with much higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratios than conventional corn- and grain-fed cows.
Watch Out For These Dairy Products
Most consumers are not aware that certain dairy products may contain many additives to make them look and taste better.
- Non-fat dried milk, which contains oxidized cholesterol that promotes inflammation, is usually added to 1% and 2% milk to enrich the taste of the milk. Additionally, non-fat dried milk has a high nitrite content and should be avoided.
- Avoid sweet condensed milk which is highly processed with tons of sugar added to it.
- Low-fat yogurts and sour creams contain mucopolysaccharide slime to give them body.
- Regular butter from corn- and grain-fed cows contains colorings to make it look like the vitamin-rich butter from grass-fed cows.
- Large-scale processed cheese often contains bioengineered enzymes, additives, and coloring.
- There is no evidence that saturated fat in the diet contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. If you have been eating non-fat or low-fat dairy for this reason, you are missing out on the many health benefits of full-fat dairy.
- For the minority of the population whose body requires a low-fat diet, they should only eat a small amount of full-fat dairy (but not non-fat or low-fat). When drinking milk that has not been homogenized, they can skim off some butterfat from the top.
- Raw is far superior than pasteurized and homogenized.
- Your best choice is raw dairy from organically-raised, grass-fed cows. This is dairy in its most natural form and is how human beings have been eating it for centuries and centuries. It is true that raw dairy (milk, cheese, butter) is more expensive but if you can afford it, it is definitely worth the price.
- Another option is raw dairy from goats and sheep. Neither contains the harmful hormones and antibiotics used in conventionally raised cattle.
- Your next best choice is dairy made from organic, pasteurized but non-homogenized milk.
- Limit consumption of dairy products that come from conventional corn- and grain-fed cows as they are full of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
- Many adults and children cannot tolerate the pasteurized and homogenized milk products. Dairy, after all, is not a must-have food category and can be omitted altogether. However, if you still want to enjoy all the benefits of dairy, give the raw version a try and see if it works for you.