Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

The pendulum is constantly swinging when it comes to the health benefits of certain fatty foods: Let’s eat margarine! Nope, butter’s better! Avocados are great, until they’re not. Full-fat dairy—whole milk, etc.—was for a while in the exiled foods category as Americans were told to choose skim milk, reduced-fat cheese, and zero-fat yogurt on the premise that they contained the bad type of cholesterol.

But a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is drawing attention for its finding that consumption of full-fat dairy was not associated with higher mortality or higher instances of cardiovascular disease, and in fact was inversely associated with cardiovascular disease and death from strokes. Someone hold my stick of butter while I read on...

This study is great news for those of us who think fat-free sour cream tastes like paint primer and that skim milk is a scourge upon our great nation. (When I was in elementary school, my mom went on a diet and switched our family to skim milk. My brother, probably 7 or 8 years old at the time, looked up from the glass of milk we had with breakfast in abject horror: “Mom, what is this?”)

The study’s authors acknowledge decades-long hypotheses that dairy fat was a risk factor for diabetes, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, despite “little empirical evidence” based on clinical research. After conducting this analysis of more than 5,000 Americans’ dairy fat consumption and long-term health, “results suggest that overall dairy fat consumption later in life does not significantly influence total mortality” and “suggest no major effects of dairy fatty acids on cardiovascular disease risk.”

Obviously, this is but one study, and further research would be useful in determining whether early-life dairy fat consumption has any health repercussions. It still doesn’t seem advisable to consume massive quantities of any type of fats, but if I’m going to make yogurt and cream and milk a “sometimes food,” then by god I’m going to choose the kind that tastes good.

Advertisement