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Is low-fat dairy preferable over full-fat options?

Should you or shouldn’t you? That question has likely gone through your mind a few times before while browsing through the milk aisle at the grocery store. Over the past few years, many of us have been told that high-fat dairy isn’t good for us. But what does that mean for the homogenized milk lovers amongst us?

There is actual truth to some of the criticism behind full-fat dairy. Dairy contains saturated fat, which has been linked to raising LDL cholesterol (also known as the “bad cholesterol”) levels and thus increasing the risk of heart disease. The higher the fat content in the dairy product, the higher the amount of saturated fat.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all drop milk and cheese completely from our diets. Despite of its recent bad rap in the media, dairy has also been known for its many health benefits. It provides a number of vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and it is a good source of amino acids and protein. Many of these nutrients are actually good for the heart muscle and can help lower blood pressure. A recent study has even found that those who consume at least three servings of dairy per day (regardless of whether it is low or high in fat) have a lower risk of stroke and death from heart disease than those who don’t.

A better option therefore is to continue consuming dairy (for those of us who want to) in moderation, and choosing low-fat options where and when possible. A Harvard Health article on this subject suggests limiting to 3 grams of saturated fat per serving of food and not going over 20 grams of saturated fat per day (those with heart disease would likely need to cut it down further). Another option is to choose a combination of low-fat and full-fat diary options which would help lower the overall amount of saturated fat that one is consuming.

While having full-fat dairy to your heart’s desire on a daily basis is probably not a good idea, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a piece of Gouda cheese with a glass of wine from time to time.


“Is low-fat or full-fat the better choice for dairy products?” (2018). Retrieved from

Thompson, D. (2018). Even High-Fat Dairy Might Be Good for you. Retrieved from

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