Whole milk may actually be best for you

Two recent studies (here, here) support the paradoxical idea that consumption of full-fat dairy products is correlated with a lower risk of developing central obesity.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images | A customer shops for milk at a Safeway in Livermore, California | Via NPR

Over at New Scientist, Jon White spoke with Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health about the so-called "dairy paradox." Willet's take? The results aren't actually that surprising:

What do you make of the suggestions that eating full-fat dairy products means you are less likely to pile on the pounds?
The findings for body weight shouldn't be too surprising as many studies have not supported the idea that fat in the diet is specifically related to greater fat in our bodies. The idea that all fats are bad still persists in the minds of many people, despite layers of evidence that this is not true. If anything, low fat/high carbohydrate diets seem to be related to greater long-term weight gain.

Where did the idea that full-fat dairy is bad for you originate?
This concept emerged in the 1950s and 60s when it was shown that saturated fat increased blood cholesterol levels. Because dairy fat has high saturated fat content (about 65 per cent), it was deemed to be harmful. Also, in the 1950s US physiologist Ancel Keys and his colleagues showed that areas with high consumption of saturated fat, largely from dairy fat, had much higher rates of heart disease than the Mediterranean countries, where dairy consumption is lower.

Check out the rest of the interview over at New Scientist. Read more about the full fat paradox at NPR.