Full fat milk improves cholesterol levels

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A three-week crossover study shows that drinking full fat, whole milk led to improved cholesterol levels compared to drinking skimmed milk.
For decades, skimmed and semi-skimmed milk has been advised as a way of reducing weight and helping to prevent heart disease. However, these guidelines were introduced before rigorous research was carried out to see if the theory was true.
In recent years, research has been carried out to test whether eating low fat has scientific validity. So far, the research suggests that full fat dairy is no worse than low fat dairy and may be healthier. Previous studies have shown full fat dairy to be associated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes, for example.
In the new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen tested the effects of having 500ml per day of either skimmed milk or whole milk for three weeks and then repeating the test with the other type of milk. The study was randomised so that some participants started with skimmed milk whereas others started with the whole milk first.
Cholesterol tests were taken to measure how the different types of milk affected blood lipids such as LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. 18 healthy adults took part in the study and all but one completed it.
The results of the study showed that LDL cholesterol did not differ significantly between the two types of milk. However, whole milk was shown to increase the level of HDL cholesterol which reflects a healthier effect on cholesterol levels.
The findings provide more evidence that low fat foods are not advantageous and that full fat dairy is likely to be the healthier choice.
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The study is published online of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.