Your Health Status May Determine Whether Full-Fat or Low-Fat Dairy Is For You



By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


Fat has always been a tricky topic of discussion. For example, if you take a trip down America’s dietary guideline history, you will see that for a certain period of time, consuming fat was not recommended. 

In 1980, the very first Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

And according to this TIME magazine article, “ of the primary directives [of the first guidelines] was to avoid cholesterol and fat of all sorts. The National Institutes of Health recommended that all Americans over the age of 2 cut fat consumption, and that same year the government announced the results of a $150 million study, which had a clear message: Eat less fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk of a heart attack.”

You may recall that in the 1990s low-fat food products were widely pushed and very popular. People filled their grocery carts with items such as low-fat cookies and yogurt, thinking that they were doing something good for their health. But it turns out, these products simply added more sugar to compensate for the lack of fat. And, obviously, adding more sugar was not necessarily healthy. 

Fortunately, most people now know that fat is a necessary nutrient to include in our diets. 

Fat is one of the six groups of nutrients we need to stay healthy. (The other nutrient groups are water, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals).

There are also good fats and bad fats, which you can read all about here.

Now, if fat (in moderation of course) is not bad for us and is one of the six nutrient groups, some might think that there’s nothing wrong with having full-fat milk with their cereal or full-fat cheese on their sandwich.

But it turns out, it really may depend on your current health status whether you should opt for full-fat dairy versus low-fat dairy. 

According to a recent report, full-fat milk and dairy is okay to consume in moderation if you are healthy.

What does “healthy” mean?

Basically, in this case, it means you are at a healthy weight range and have no risk factors for heart disease. What’s particularly interesting about this research is that it revealed that healthy people who ate low-fat dairy did not reap any benefits from choosing low-fat dairy over full-fat dairy.

“Put simply, for people who do not have any risk factors for heart disease, including those in the healthy weight range, choosing reduced-fat or low-fat options for milk, yogurt and cheese does not confer extra health benefits or risks compared to choosing the higher fat options, as part of a varied healthy eating pattern,” according to the report.


“Before you think about having a dairy binge, the review noted the studies on full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese can't be extrapolated to butter, cream, ice cream and dairy-based desserts.”

Wouldn’t that be too good to be true? You also have to keep in mind the sugar content in some of these foods. Ice cream, for example, is very high in sugar.

For people who are overweight and/or have other risk factors (such as high blood pressure) for heart disease, full-fat dairy may be something to stay away from.

“The review found dairy fat in butter seems to raise LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels more than full-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. And for people with raised LDL cholesterol there is a bigger increase in LDL after consuming fat from dairy products.”

Low-fat dairy may be a better option for people with metabolic issues. If you are someone who currently consumes full-fat dairy and is not aware of your current health status, it may be a good idea to find out from a competent healthcare professional.

If full fat is not for you, remember there are also plenty of plant-based milk alternatives that are low in fat and rich in nutrients that may help you maintain a healthy weight and have good heart health.

Enjoy your healthy life!


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.   


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