Full-fat foods have been getting a bad rap for decades now. But brace yourself. There is no evidence that eating low-fat dairy is more healthy than eating whole-fat dairy, according to researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy and Professor of Nutrition.
Participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who had higher levels of dairy fatty acid concentrations from full-fat dairy products were also seen to have a 46 percent lower risk for diabetes than those with lower levels.
The study was published the journal Circulation by the American Heart Association.
While it's true that full-fat dairy products are higher in calories than low-fat products, it's a bit more complicated than that. Low-fat foods prompt people to make up for it with more carbohydrates. Risks for problems with insulin as well as for diabetes increase as carbohydrate consumption increases.
Separate research reported in the American Journal of Nutrition indicated that women from the Nurse's Study who ate the highest levels of fat in dairy products had a lower risk by 8 percent for obesity or being overweight.
When people are eating low-fat, they may find themselves seeking to feel full or to enjoy their food more by also consuming additional carbohydrates. This can also result in putting on unwanted pounds.
High fat levels in food bring about greater satiety after eating. It's speculated that this may be part of the reason for this correlation between high fat, and lower risks for overweight and diabetes.
Another theory is that dairy fats may act directly on cells, in muscle and in the liver, improving their task of breaking down sugar.
It's also theorized that microbes in some fermented high fat dairy foods may enhance insulin response, and may help decrease the risk for diabetes.