Which is Healthier – Full-Fat vs Low-Fat Dairy?
Which is Healthier – Full-Fat vs Low-Fat Dairy?
November 19, 2016    POSTED IN  Grocery Shopping TipHealthy EatingNutrition Articles

Which is healthier – full-fat vs low-fat dairy? According to new findings, low-fat dairy might not always be the healthiest choice. In fact, there is a growing amount of research which highlight the benefits of full-fat dairy.

Let’s explore some of these findings to help you decide which type of dairy is best for you:

Weight Management

A recent study found that drinking low-fat milk does not seem to prevent excess weight gain in toddlers. Low-fat milk was actually associated with being overweight and obesity in preschool children. Another study of Swedish women found that women who drank full-fat milk lost more body weight on average than women who consumed its low-fat counterpart.

When exploring the effects of full-fat vs low-fat dairy on weight, it becomes clear that fat may not make us fat after all. Fat increases satiety after a meal helping to curb appetite. It also slows the release of sugar into your bloodstream which reduces how much the body will store it as fat.

When exploring the effects of full-fat vs low-fat dairy on weight, it becomes clear that fat may not make us fat after all.

Hormone Balance

Another fascinating area to explore is the influence that full-fat vs low-fat dairy has on our hormones. A recent study showed that low-fat dairy contributed to infertility (when issues are based on ovulatory infertility or lack of ovulation) and full-fat dairy decreased the risk of infertility.

Milk contains a mix of both male and female hormones. Some of these hormones are attached to fat molecules. Therefore, some of these hormones are removed from milk when the fat is skimmed away. What is left behind is a watery liquid that contains an unbalanced mix of hormones. This particular blend of hormones doesn’t seem to be conducive to fertility as it possibly throws off the body’s natural balance of hormones. The unusual blend of hormones may also explain why another study found a higher incidence of acne in teenagers who drank skim milk compared to full-fat milk. The leading cause of teen acne is hormones.

Overall Health 

The impact of full-fat vs low-fat dairy on our health is possibly the most crucial area to investigate. Recent studies are consistently showing that full-fat dairy may be the more favorable choice for reducing inflammation, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, and decreasing levels of insulin resistance.

However, the amount of dairy we consume is another important piece to this puzzle.  Studies show that consuming a lot of dairy, full-fat or low-fat, may not be good for our health. High consumption of dairy may increase our risk for certain cancers, heart disease, and weight gain.

Putting it All Together – Full-Fat vs Low-Fat Dairy

The truth is that we are going to need a lot more research before anyone can give a definite answer on which is healthier – full-fat vs low-fat dairy. With that said, the more research I do on full-fat vs low-fat dairy the more skeptical I become of skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced fat cheese. This is why I only consume full-fat, preferably organic, dairy products. Though, keep in mind that if you do decide to switch to full-fat dairy you might need to make some dietary adjustments to keep your calories and waistline in check.

I think it is important to remember that science is useful but nothing should trump your ability to think for yourself and use common sense. I don’t need science to tell me what I intuitively feel and believe. The real thing in its most natural form is always a better choice when it comes to our health.

My suggestion is that if you do decide to include dairy in your diet, aim for no more than one or two servings per day.  Also, use a mix of the current research on dairy and your own hunch to decide if full-fat or low-fat dairy is the better choice for you.

With Love,



Renee is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist practicing in Chicago.