New Research Suggests Whole Milk Actually Reduces Body Fat

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New Research Suggests Whole Milk Actually Reduces Body Fat
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New Research Suggests Whole Milk Actually Reduces Body Fat

Against conventional wisdom, growing scientific evidence links the consumption of full-fat dairy products with reduced body fat. Read on to find out what new studies reveal and the possible explanations behind the phenomenon.

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A recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare analyzed dairy fat intake and central obesity (a waist-hip ratio over the value one) among more than 1,700 men over a span of 12 years. Scientists found an association between high intake of dairy fat, from foods like butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream, and lower risk of central obesity, while low intake of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

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The study adds to a growing body of evidence that full-fat dairy may actually be beneficial for our health. Another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition reviewed 16 observational studies and found most of the studies linked high-fat dairy foods with a lower risk of obesity. In addition, the relationship between high-fat dairy intake and both cardiovascular disease and diabetes proved inconsistent.

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Last year, a study published online in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood, affiliated with the British Medical Journal, found similar results among children. Preschoolers who drank one percent or skim milk were more likely to become overweight or obese and had higher body mass index z scores than preschoolers who consumed two percent or whole milk.

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An NPR article suggests two leading explanations for the findings. One is that higher dairy fat helps us feel fuller longer, so we eat less.

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Alternately, Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, says there might be bio-active substances in the milk fat that alter metabolism so our bodies burn fat for energy rather than store it.

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NPR reports that these new findings have elicited differing opinions on milk recommendations. Whole milk is relatively high in saturated fat and too much saturated fat can increase heart disease, so its consumption may not be recommended for those with high cholesterol.

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While it may be too early to tell what these findings mean for the dairy industry, businesses have noticed increases in sales for whole-fat milk and butter.

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Is skim milk really best? Maybe not, suggest new studies that challenge the long-held dietary recommendation.

A recently published study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare analyzed dairy fat intake and central obesity among a group of middle-aged men over a 12-year period. Researchers found that high intake of dairy fat (from foods like butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream) was associated with a lower risk of central obesity, while low intake of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that full-fat dairy may actually be beneficial for our health. Another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition reviewed 16 observational studies and found most of the studies linked high-fat dairy foods with a lower risk of obesity. In addition, the relationship between high-fat dairy intake and both cardiovascular disease and diabetes proved inconsistent.

In an NPR article, Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, describes the findings as "counter-intuitive" and says, "We continue to see more and more data coming out [finding that] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat."

Check out the slideshow above to learn more details and possible explanations for the new findings.

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