Whole Fat or Skim Milk? | Torrance Memorial

Published on February 07, 2018

Whole Fat or Skim Milk?

pouring milk

By Debra Nessel, RD, CDE, Torrance Memorial Medical Center

Though we may not know for sure how whole fat is working to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, it’s possible that it may help regulate blood glucose in several different ways. Full fat dairy is higher in calories. Because of this, it may be more satisfying and may quench hunger longer. There is also a theory that certain potentially high fat dairy foods, like cheese, and some yogurts which are fermented contain microbes that help balance gut bacteria thus may be working to improve insulin response and lower diabetes risk too.

For those trying to lose weight or watching their cholesterol, it is said that cholesterol in foods does not necessarily have a big impact on blood cholesterol. The latter is a combination of genetics and diet. It might not be helpful to exclude cholesterol rich foods by virtue of this one component alone. Consider that seafood such as shrimp and lobster or alternative proteins such as eggs are low fat, low calorie food choices. They can be enjoyed in the diet in moderation despite the fact that they are considered heavy in cholesterol. It is important to keep in mind that lipid health is a combination of genetics, physical activity, diet, weight maintenance and lifestyle changes.

Dairy also contributes to our gut health. These days, we consider gut health as an important component for overall good health, and weight control. Consider including smaller portions of certain high fat dairy foods, like cheese, which is fermented, as the microbes may be working to increase good gut bacteria, which may in turn improve insulin response and lower diabetes risk too. Similarly some yogurts will provide the much needed components for good gut health.

At the end of the day, moderation is best. A diet should be recommended based on overall calorie and nutrient density. If you are only looking to save calories, a lower fat milk choice would be obvious. However, if skim milk shares the plate with chocolate cake, the good intention is lost. Full fat milk has been noted to quench hunger. This may help decrease daily calorie intake. Here are some tips to incorporate healthy dairy products into your diet.

  • Choose wisely, whole milk or low fat versions should be included in 8 ounce portions.
  • Enjoy small portions of full fat yogurts and beware of trading off whole milk ice cream or yogurt for its lower fat version as you may actually be picking up more sugar than you bargained for.
  • Again, moderation may just be the key. We should look at an individual’s diet in its entirety and try not to focus in on only one feature.