Most mainstream dietary advice recommends low-fat or non-fat dairy. But a growing number of experts argue that it’s far healthier to eat and drink whole – fat dairy products, with all the fat left in.
Dairy foods contain roughly 50 to 60 percent saturated fat, and conventional thinking is that saturated fat is bad for your heart. This idea has been thoroughly refuted as false. It’s a mistaken interpretation of the science. In a 2010 analysis,1 scientists said:
There was no major evidence supporting that dietary saturated fat is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular or coronary heart diseases.
More recently, research presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Vienna, Austria, found that eating full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cream, cheese, and butter, reduces your risk of developing diabetes.
Whole-Fat Dairy Associated with Lower Risk of Diabetes
The study included nearly 27,000 people between the ages of 45-74 who were followed for 14 years.
As reported in The Telegraph,2 those who ate eight portions of full-fat dairy products a day cut their risk of diabetes by nearly 25 percent, compared to those who ate lesser quantity. One serving counted as:
- Yogurt or milk, 200 milliliters (ml)
- Cheese, 20 grams (g)
- Cream, 25 grams
- Butter, 7 grams
Also, consuming 30 ml of cream or 180 ml of high-fat yoghurt daily reduced the risk of diabetes by 15 percent and 20 percent respectively, compared to those who ate none. According to lead author Dr. Ulrika Ericson of the Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden:3
“Our observations may contribute to clarifying previous findings regarding dietary fats and their food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes.
The lower risk of type 2 diabetes linked with high-fat dairy products incomparision with low-fat dairy, explains productive linkage between type 2 diabetes and dairy intake…
Our findings suggest, that in contrast to animal fats in general, fats specific to dairy products may have a role in prevention of type 2 diabetes.”
In 2010, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine4 proposed that it’s the palmitoleic acid, which occurs naturally in full-fat dairy products, that protects against insulin resistance and diabetes. People who consumed full-fat dairy had higher levels of trans-palmitoleate in their blood, and this translated to a two-thirds lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people with lower levels.
Other Research Showing Whole-Fat Dairy Is Good for You
As I’ll discuss below, I firmly believe that pasteurized dairy products are best avoided. Unfortunately, research on raw dairy—which is always full-fat—are few and far between, so I’m going to refer to studies using pasteurized dairy for the sake of showing that the full-fat versions are the better choice.
Besides lowering your risk for diabetes, previous studies have also shown that consuming full-fat dairy may help reduce your risk of:
- Cancer: CLA- Conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat found naturally in cow’s milk, significantly lowers the risk of cancer. In one study,5 those who ate at least four servings of high-fat dairy foods each day had a 41 percent lower risk of bowel cancer than those who ate less than one. Each increment of two servings of dairy products reduced a woman’s colon cancer risk by 13 percent.
- Weight: Women who ate at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day gained 30 percent less weight over a nine-year period than women who ate only low-fat (or no) dairy products.
- Heart Disease: People who ate the most full-fat dairy were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, according to a 16-year study7 of Australian adults.
More People Starting to Recognize That Butter Is Better
More and more people are starting to realize the fallacy of the low-fat myth. As noted by NPR,8 in 1992, 44 percent of household cooks surveyed reported being “concerned about the amount of cholesterol in their food.” Today, that number has dropped down to 27 percent.
Other countries have also switched over from margarine to butter in ever-increasing numbers. According to dairy economist Brian Gould, American butter export has grown from zero to just over 10 percent of the market since the early 2000s.
Keep in mind that butter’s nutritional value depends on how the cows are raised, as the fatty acid composition of butterfat varies according to the animal’s diet. The best option is to make your own butter at home with raw milk. However, for the lazy ones grass-pastured cows, preferably certified organic butter, raw or unpasteurized is second best.
The next best is pasteurized butter from grass-fed or pastured organic cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets. Even the latter two are healthier choices by orders of magnitude than margarines or spreads.
Grass-Fed Butter, Health Benefits
Other research backs up the suggestion that butter is a health food that offers both short-term and long-term benefits for your health. One study10 found that fat levels in your blood are actually lower after eating a meal rich in butter than after eating one rich in olive oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil.
The scientists’ main explanation is that about 20 percent of butterfat consists of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are used right away for quick energy and therefore don’t contribute to fat levels in your blood. Some oils (flax, canola etc.) consist of long-chain fatty acids, which are immediately stored as fat.
It explains that major portion of butter is immediately converted into energy—like carbohydrates.But, unlike a carbohydrate, it doesn’t adversely affect your insulin and leptin levels. The primary nutrients found in butter are outlined in the table below.
Raw Dairy Is Preferable Over Pasteurized
While the featured research focused on the fat content of the dairy, I also want to point out that the issue of pasteurization is another important consideration. Raw milk from organically raised grass-fed cows is far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk. Pasteurization actually promotes the growth of pathogens, and destroys vitamin B6 and B12, denatures milk proteins, diminishes vitamins, and destroys enzymes. Most of the enzymes that are necessary for digestion are destroyed. So, drinking pasteurized milk can promote disease—particularly allergies; and can tax your pancreas.
A number of studies have also demonstrated the superior safety of raw milk compared to pasteurized. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of foodborne illnesses in the US are actually linked to factory farmed and highly processed foods, not raw foods. For example, Chobani Greek yoghurt came into focus, late last year, due to causing gastrointestinal illness. It was pasteurized and was observed as rotten with Murcor circinelloides—a fungus.
Several American states have banned the sale of raw milk for the fear of contamination despite overwhelming evidence of health benefits and safety. That’s in sharp contrast to Europe, where some nations even sell it in vending machines… There is no harm in safety of raw milk, provided it comes from pastured, organically raised cows. According to a 2011, research; in Wise Traditions: you are more than 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other food like processed and refined foods than you are from raw milk.
You can easily ascertain the quality of grass-fed milk, butter, and yoghurt by its color. The carotenoids in the plants cows eat on pasture gives grass-fed products a more yellow-orange cast. When cows are raised on dried grass or hay, opposed to fresh-growing grass, you end up with a whiter product, which is an indication of reduced antioxidant and carotenoid. Raw milk yogurt is also very creamy and thick, compared to pasteurized commercial varieties. Same criteria can be taken for pastured eggs, which are ascertained by the color of the yolks. They should be deep orange in color. Whereas the CAFO chickens which are fed grains and never go outdoors produce pale yellow yolk.
Health Benefits of Raw Milk
Just like raw organic butter, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw milk is:
Where to Find Raw Milk
There are several resources out there to help you locate raw milk and other dairy products, and the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws, in case you don’t already know what your state’s rules are.
- The Campaign for Real Milk has a Real Milk Finder, listing sources in various US states
- You can also contact your local Weston A. Price Chapter for a listing of raw dairy vendors
In many states, you can make a private agreement with a dairy farmer, called a herdshare, which entitle you to the benefits of owning a “share” of a cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week. If you simply cannot obtain raw milk, for whatever reason, you have a couple of options that are likely to be better than drinking conventional pasteurized and homogenized milk from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Some food US stores have started selling lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized organic milk. If your local store doesn’t carry it yet, you can ask them to do so. As a last resort, you could opt for organic pasteurized milk. At least, you’ll avoid many of the detriments of CAFO dairy that way—including other drugs, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and antibiotics. You’ll also avoid a source of glyphosate and genetically engineered organisms GMO, as CAFO cattle are typically fed GMO grains.
More Food Freedom Could Result By Raw Milk New Bills
In interstate commerce; raw milk is the only food banned. This makes it challenging (though not impossible) for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. Such nonsensical bans have resulted in an increasing number of violent crack-down on peaceful dairy farmers who want nothing more than to provide their customers with high-quality food.
Fortunately, there are signs of progress and glimmers of hope. A bipartisan coalition of 20 lawmakers is planning to introduce a series of “food freedom” bills this year. The first two to be released could be a major step forward in the raw milk movement. According to Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, these bills are intended to improve consumer food choices while protecting local farmers from federal interference:
- The Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4307): The bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products, offering relief for small farmers who have been harassed, fined, or prosecuted for distributing raw milk.
- The Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4308): This bill would prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of unpasteurized natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.
To protect food freedom and freedom of choice for all Americans, I urge you to contact your government representatives, and ask them to vote YES on both HB 4307 and HB 4308. The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created a one-click form letter for this purpose. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.
The Right Kind of Milk Can Do Your Body Good
While both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC warn that raw milk can carry disease-causing bacteria, they completely overlook the fact that these bacteria are the result of industrial farming practices that lead to diseased animals, which may then in turn produce contaminated milk.
This is a key issue, as raw milk from a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) IS dangerous and must be pasteurized in order to be fit to drink, whereas raw milk from cows raised on pasture IS NOT dangerous and does not need pasteurization. It’s really critical to understand that it is the source of the milk makes all the difference when it comes to raw milk. So, to summarize, there are two primary considerations to take into account when deciding on dairy:
- Full-fat versus low-fat or non-fat. The former is definitely a better choice, regardless of whether you opt for organic pasteurized or organic lightly pasteurized or raw. Homogenized and pasteurized low fat dairy products and skim milk have little to no redeeming nutritional value, as all the good stuff has been processed into oblivion or taken out altogether
- Pasteurized versus raw. Pasteurization denatures and damages the milk, rendering it a source of digestive problems and allergies. Many who are lactose intolerant and cannot drink or eat dairy find that they do not have these problems with raw grass-fed dairy products.
Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain is a certified Health Coach IIN, U.S, Holistic Nutrition Therapist, SNHS, U.K, Food Investigator, Published Health Expert. She is a graduate of Psychology, Philosophy and English Literature. She was also nominated for “Full-Bright Scholarship Program,” from St. Joseph College for women. She is originally from Pakistan; but she stayed in Oman where she studied ahead to become “the First-Health Coach from the Sultanate.”
She believes: “Food is the best form of preventive medicine.”
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