From the very beginning, humans have been taught to have a negative attitude towards fat. “Only one dessert, Louise! Too many and you’ll get fat,” you’ll hear your mother tell you countless times as a kid. It trains your brain to think every time you see the words “low fat” or “fat free,” the product must be healthier than its higher fat counterpart. But what if this low fat praise is a sham? What if fat was actually good for you, and that water-thin skim milk you’ve been drinking to cut down on some pounds is actually worse for you than higher fat content milk? Together, scientists and nutritionists alike are debunking this fat myth, allowing whole milk to finally have its moment to shine.
It is unarguable that anything in excess becomes bad for the body after a while; you can even eat too many apples! However, the real culprit of detrimental overindulgence is the excessive avoiding of healthy fats your body necessitates for proper functional performance. While having a lavish attitude towards fats might seem like the risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease would become higher, intaking a decadent amount of sugar and carbohydrates as calorie replacements for the fat your body misses out in consuming reduced fat milk actually puts the body at an even higher risk for disease than whole milks, butters, and other fatty dairy products.
So how does a myth like this start? Is it because we expect healthier foods to taste worse than high-calorie foods? Perhaps, but regulating the nutrients your body intakes by assuming the better foods for your health are the ones that don’t taste as appetizing isn’t exactly the most productive nor accurate path. In recent data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study, it has been shown that those who consume high fat milks receive several different byproducts low fat milks do not provide, byproducts with the ability to lower the risk for diabetes by around forty-six-percent. Seems nutty, right? The thing is, if we break it down, it makes a whole lot of sense. To function, our bodies need nutrients, regardless of their reputation in health journals or magazines, so while skim milk might have a lower fat content, by default, it has a lower nutrient content and the potential for greater health risks.
The last thing we want you to do after reading this is chug whole milk by the gallon, but maybe with this new information, dumping the fat free milk for some nutrient-rich milk might be in your near future. Here’s to proving government-regulated dietary guides wrong, and to listening to your body’s needs this time around.