According to a Daily Mail article, Danish scientists recently uncovered surprising evidence that full fat milk might be better at keeping you safe from heart disease and strokes than the highly-touted skimmed milk. The research team based in the University of Copenhagen found that full fat milk actually raises the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood. HDL is considered to be ‘good’ cholesterol as it negates its unhealthy counterpart, low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The study further determined that the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels of participants who drank full fat milk did not significantly differ from those who drank skimmed milk.
High levels of LDL cause plaque to build up in arteries, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and vascular diseases. Good cholesterol counters this by absorbing LDL and hauling it to the liver for disposal.
Eighteen healthy adults participated in the Danish experiment. These volunteers drank 500 ml of either skimmed milk or whole milk every day for three weeks. Then they switched to the other type of milk for another three weeks. During this time, the researchers administered cholesterol tests. They measured how the two different types of milk affected the levels of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other types of lipids in the blood of the participants.
The researchers randomized their experiment by starting some participants on skimmed milk while the other volunteers began with whole milk. Of the 18 volunteers, all but one completed the experiment.
The full study can be found in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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According to the Danish scientists, their discovery supported the theory that full fat milk is just as good, if not better, than low fat milk when it comes to counterbalancing the ill effects of bad cholesterol with good cholesterol.
“Dietary guidelines have for decades recommended choosing low-fat dairy products due to the high content of saturated fat in dairy known to increase blood concentration of LDL cholesterol,” they explained in their report. “But studies show no association between overall dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and even point to an inverse association with type 2 diabetes.
They concluded with, “Our findings suggest whole milk might be considered a part of a healthy diet among the healthy population.”
Low-fat dairy products like skimmed milk and semi-skimmed milk are a common recommendation for health-conscious consumers who want to avoid the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The results of the Danish experiment are challenging these preconceived notions about the superiority of skimmed milk over full fat milk as an option for health-conscious consumers.
This is not the first time the Danish team has tackled the unrecognized benefits of whole milk. In 2016 they held an experiment where volunteers ate either regular fat cheese or a low-calorie equivalent for three months. They determined that low fat cheese did not exert any significant effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, or waistlines.
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