When I wrote my original On Milk post, it was getting so long that I decided to leave out the implications that drinking whole milk may have on fat and calorie intake and cholesterol management. But I wasn’t surprised when that topic came up in the comments. In fact, I was rather surprised that it wasn’t addressed more than once.
If you think you know all there is to know about fat and cholesterol, think again.
Regarding cholesterol, there are various contradicting theories about what causes high cholesterol (and even what it is, exactly) and how dangerous it actually is. I’m hardly qualified to speak on the topic. However, if this is a concern of yours, I highly recommend that you get yourself down to your friendly Borders bookstore (or just click on the affiliate link that is on its way) and purchase a copy of Nina Planck’s Real Food: What To Eat and Why because she has a whole chapter dedicated to the topic, and it was quite eye-opening to me. If you think you know all there is to know about fat and cholesterol, think again. I will try to address the topic a bit when I post about eggs, so stay tuned.
As far as weight loss and dieting is concerned, I realize that switching to whole milk seems counter-intuitive. Whole milk has more fat and calories than skim or 2% so it must be more fattening. Right? WELLLLLL… Maybe, maybe not.
There have been some recent findings that suggest the contrary.
For instance, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who regularly drank whole milk and other full-fat dairy products gained 15%-30% less weight over a ten year period than those who consumed low-fat dairy products. No one is sure exactly why, but it certainly makes me want to find out more.
I was going to start summarizing some of what I’ve found on this topic, but rather than reinvent the wheel, let me point you to some resources that may be eye-opening.
Kelly’s post called Does Fat Make You Fat? is a great place to start.
Also, at the end of her post on Healthy Milk, she addresses the issue of weight gain and whole milk in the Q&A section.
According to this article in White Coat Notes, low-fat dairy may be linked to infertility in women.
This article from WomenToWomen.com addresses the common myths about fat and cholesterol.
Furthermore, and this is eye-opening, a recent study recorded by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveals the following:
For women, 5-year difference in waist circumference was inversely related to intake from red meat, vegetables, fruit, butter, and high-fat dairy products, whereas intake from potatoes, processed meat, poultry, and snack foods was positively associated. For men, red meat and fruit intakes were inversely associated with 5-year difference in waist circumference, whereas snack foods intake was positively associated. Sex differences occurred for vegetables, high-fat dairy products, and processed meat.
The results suggest that a diet low in fruits and red meat and high in snack foods was associated with larger waist circumference gains in both sexes. Furthermore, in women a diet low in vegetables, butter, and high-fat dairy products, and high in poultry, potatoes, and processed meat were likely determinants of subsequent gain at the waist.
The fact of the matter is, we are learning new things every day, and some findings are contradicting the old school of thought. Unfortunately, we’ve been indoctrinated with the low-fat mentality for so long that it’s going to take time to re-educate the general population. But in my opinion, it boils down to this. If we would just stick to eating things as close to the way that God or Mother Nature or whoever you believe in created them, we wouldn’t have to worry about the latest research or the most recent study.
Of course, I’m not saying we should all go out and gorge ourselves on every fattening thing we can lay our hands on. Unfortunately, the food itself is not the only thing that’s changed in the last 100 years. Portion sizes have grown exponentially, we eat on the run, we snack in the car and in front of the TV and at our desk and virtually everywhere but the kitchen table with our families, and we lead much more sedentary lives than our forefathers.
So yeah, if you keep eating all kinds of junk and switch to whole milk, you may gain weight. But in the context of a traditional, balanced, healthy diet, whole milk should not make you gain weight. At least, that’s what they tell me. I’ll let you know in a few months. 😉