Full fat or low fat milk – which is healthier?
This is a debate that I’ve been hearing a lot of lately. With the recent article in the news with a couple of Christchurch cafes not offering trim milk as an option, I thought it would be a good time to answer the question: full fat or low fat milk – which is healthier?
I kind of feel like full fat is the on trend, hip option and that if you choose trim it seems your behind the times. Now I’ve never been cool, so I guess it’s not a surprise I like a lower fat milk. Personally I choose to sit in the middle and buy 1.5% reduced fat milk. But on a more serious side of things, you can relax as your milk choice is totally up to you!! Here’s why:
Low fat dairy products are currently recommended by health authorities because of the link between saturated fat and increased cholesterol (one risk factor for heart disease). However, research is beginning to emerge that suggests the fat present in milk, yoghurt and cheese does not raise cholesterol, and in fact these foods may even be protective against heart disease. So that’s good news if you like full fat milk.
Other reasons people choose full fat milk is for satiety. Fat slows down digestion, therefore the presence of fat in food and drink can help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Personally, I don’t notice any difference in consuming full fat milk vs low fat milk in terms of my hunger levels. I generally consume milk along side other things which may include some other healthy fat – eg oats, milk and nuts or a smoothie with chia seeds.
Milk fat also contains some fat soluble nutrients so the presence of fat will help these be absorbed by the body.
Low fat milk does have it’s own set of benefits.
It’s a little higher in protein. Protein is a nutrient that also enhances satiety (feelings of fullness). It is a myth that low fat milk contains more sugar than full fat. Per 100g, it contains 0.1g more – so it’s practically the same. Because of the lower fat content low fat milk also lower in kilojoules.
Lower fat milk is still minimally processed, and a healthy option.
Full fat or low fat milk – which is healthier? In my opinion, the choice is yours. I’m not a fan of the thick, creamy taste of full cream milk. I usually buy 1.5% fat – ie light blue which I enjoy the taste of. If I’m ordering a coffee at a cafe, I’ll get trim milk.
If you enjoy low fat milk, feel free to have it. If you like the taste of full fat milk, then that’s ok. Do what works for you. Choosing between full fat and low fat milk seems like sweating the small stuff in nutrition. Get the basics of healthy eating right, then choose which one you prefer for your own preferences and health needs.