Drinking Low-Fat or Skim Milk Might Not Be Healthier After All

Go ahead, reach for the full-fat stuff.

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If you've been pouring skim milk over your morning cereal because you think it's healthier, you might want to reconsider. More and more large-scale studies are coming out suggesting full-fat dairy is actually better for us than low-fat and skim versions. In the latest study, which was published in Circulation in March, researchers found people who drank non-fat milk were more likely to develop diabetes than people who drank full-fat milk.

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Researchers from Harvard and Tufts asked more than 3,000 adults who did not have diabetes from age 30 to 75 take blood tests. They then followed up over the years to check in on the study participants' health and found that people who had higher levels of the byproducts of full-fat dairy in their blood were 46 percent less likely to have developed diabetes over the 15 years of the study. That level of risk was consistent even when the researchers factored in weight.

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Why were skim drinkers at a higher risk of diabetes? That's still not entirely clear, but Time notes that when people go on a low-fat diet, they are likely to compensate for those lost calories by eating more sugar and carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain, one of the main risk factors for diabetes.

This isn't the only study pouring cold water all over skim milk. A February 2016 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition looked at the health data of more than 18,000 middle-aged women and found that those who ate the most high-fat dairy lowered their risk of being obese or overweight by 8 percent.

But this research doesn't mean you have the green light to eat nothing but fat. Instead, scientists say the studies point to the need to reevaluate America's dietary guidelines to figure out what's really the best for us. A variety of dairy types might be the best for now. In the meantime, go ahead and enjoy some whole milk in your coffee. It tastes better, anyway.

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