For years, nutrition guidelines have been instructing people to avoid whole milk, mainly due to its saturated fat content. Mainstream nutrition recommendations advise limiting saturated fat because it can increase cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Based on this information, experts made the assumption that saturated fat must increase the risk of heart disease. However, there was no experimental evidence to prove that this was true.
While those with high cholesterol levels or heart disease may need to defer to their doctor’s recommendations and monitor their intake of saturated fat, it can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet for individuals without those two conditions.
In fact, multiple studies suggest that increased saturated fat intake is not directly associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, heart attack, or heart disease-related death. Originally, researchers believed that saturated fat increased cholesterol levels, which in turn increased the risk of heart disease. However, the relationship between saturated fat and cholesterol is much more complicated.
Furthermore, other research suggests that certain foods high in saturated fat may impact heart health differently. For example, one review showed that cheese and yogurt were actually linked to a lower risk of heart disease, while red meat and butter were tied to a higher risk.
Many people avoid drinking whole milk because they assume the extra fat and calories will cause them to gain weight. However, many studies have shown that consuming high-fat dairy products may actually help support weight management instead.