The upcoming U.S. Dietary Guidelines have renewed the whole vs. skim milk debate, bringing it back into the spotlight.
Diet recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be published by the end of the year, and will remain in effect for a period of 5 years. The current document draft has been sparking controversy lately, because it continues to promote low-fat dairy items, over whole milk products.
“The U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that […]are moderate in low-and non-fat dairy products”, specifies the preliminary text.
In addition, federal authorities strongly recommend people to reduce the calorie intake pertaining to high-fat dairy, such as milk, cheese and yogurt.
As some experts have revealed, the federal government’s decision to cling to this traditional endorsement is an outmoded way of looking at things. It also proves that the federal panel hasn’t been sufficiently informed with the latest studies in the field.
Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, a growing body of research has shown that far from being detrimental to health, full-fat products are actually preferable to low-fat and non-fat varieties.
For example, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition has revealed that consumers who opt for whole milk tend to weigh less and to have a lower obesity risk, in comparison with their counterparts who drink skim milk.
Therefore, it may be counterproductive to perpetuate this idea that low-fat dairy products are more advisable when it comes to promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Critics of these federal guidelines even worry that making such claims official will greatly affect children, since these measures will be implemented in school lunch programs. According to them, obesity rates have been skyrocketing in recent years, despite the government’s efforts to promote low-fat items.
There are however others who differentiate between different types of lipids, claiming that some may be superior to others. While they admit fat may not necessarily be damaging, since it boosts metabolism, curbs hunger and promotes vitamin absorption, certain kinds are preferable.
For example, monounsaturated fats like those from olive oil, avocado or nuts are highly nutritious and beneficial, and so are polyunsaturated fats found in fish and plant-based oils.
On the other hand, saturated fat like the one contained by whole milk may not be the best option, since it has been traditionally linked with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. However, many consumers aware of these consequences tend to replace saturated fats with sugars and carbohydrates, which are just as damaging.
It remains to be seen what recommendations will be included in the final version of the national Dietary Guidelines, once the revised form is released in December. However, conflicting information in the field of nutrition can only result in a controversial decision,whichever point of view will eventually prevail.
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