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Myth-busting Monday: Why Whole Milk is Great for You

So whole milk is bad for you, right? It’s got tons of fat and calories in it-the two super villains of the dieting world. Obviously, skim milk should be your choice of dairy? Well, you’d be surprised to learn that you are very, very, very wrong if you are choosing to drink skim milk over whole milk.

The truth is, there is very little evidence that skim milk provides any clear health advantage over whole milk. The idea that skim milk is bad comes from the 1970’s, when we were first trying to understand the health crisis that was rising in America. As it turns out, the idea that fat is bad for has little empirical evidence, and feels much more like somebody thought “We don’t want to be fat so we shouldn’t eat fat.” While that seems to make sense, our bodies don’t work like that.

Recent studies in Europe suggest otherwise. In fact, they have linked the consumption of whole milk to a reduced risk for diabetes, reduced risks for obesity, and several other health benefits. Some studies even suggest that low fat diets might prevent you from losing weight. While we’re not sure why consumption of high fat dairy is linked to these health benefits, there are several theories.

One theory is that whole milk has more calories, so it keeps you full for a longer amount of time than skim milk. Drinkers of skim milk are more likely to consume carbs and sugars to make up for the calorie difference, but carbs and sugars present significantly worse health risks than fats do-health risks that have been verified time and time again by scientific studies.

Other ideas range from genetics to nutritional value. Despite what we’ve been taught our entire lives, we actually do need fats. They provide vital nutrients that our bodies need to survive. Cutting them out of our diets deprives our bodies of the resources they need to live.

While the extra calories seem bad at first glance, there’s more to food than calories and fat. Turns out, fat isn't as bad as we thought it is, and calories aren't that simple either. Our bodies need a wide range of fats, calories, carbs, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy. If we only worry about cutting out one or two “bad” things from our diets without truly understanding the role they play in our health, we run the risk of hurting ourselves more than we are helping ourselves.

So, feel free to grab that whole milk next time you’re at the grocery store. It’s good for you!

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