Are dairy fats beneficial for good health?

For decades, experts advised people to reduce their fat intake, however they now agree that fats are actually beneficial for people’s health, and dairy fats have an important role to play.

Fonterra Senior Research Scientist and Nutritionist, Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, explained that the idea that fat makes you fat was flawed. Research today shows that, people who eliminated fats from their diet often replaced them with refined carbohydrates, which in turn is thought to have contributed to the double burden of obesity and diabetes.
 
“Fat not only provides a valuable source of energy, but also delivers key building blocks for the body and essential, fat-soluble vitamins. Dairy, which is a natural source of fat, plays a key part in this because it is packed full of nutrients.
 
“In fact, evidence suggests that diets with higher amounts of dairy, including full fat versions of foods like cheese, milk and yoghurt, are associated with a lower risk of conditions such as a stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
 
“Including dairy in the diet can also help with weight management. People who consume more dairy, including full-fat dairy, have been found to gain less weight over time. It’s a good idea to make sure you get your daily serves of dairy when following a weight-loss plan as this can help lose more body fat and maintain muscle,” Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum said.  
 
However, not all dairy is created equal. New Zealand’s cows graze outdoors all year round so are predominately grass-fed. Milk from grass-fed cows have higher levels of beta-carotene, omega-3, vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a unique polyunsaturated fat. Early evidence indicates that CLA may play a role in supporting immune function, maintaining cardiovascular health and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
 
“As the multiple health benefits of fats become more well-known, we’re seeing more consumers reaching for dairy as a nutritious and healthy food choice,” Dr Weichselbaum said.

Click here to watch a video with Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum discussing dairy fats.