As I’ve mentioned before, as the person in our household who does all of the cooking and all of the shopping, I maintain pretty tight rein on our diets. The strategy I use is a bit different. I cook with real butter, my wife drinks whole milk and eats whole yogurt, and, generally, everything I cook and that we eat is the real stuff, doesn’t contain a lot of sugar, colors, or other additives, and is pretty unprocessed. My wife’s PCP recently proclaimed her “healthy as a horse”. The resemblance ends there, I hasten to add.
On the other hand I do serve very small portions, I prepare precisely as much as we will eat, and we eat many small meals in a day.
As it turns out there’s a bit of evidence that I might be on the right track:
In one paper, published by Swedish researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared to men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.
Yep, that’s right. The butter and whole-milk eaters did better at keeping the pounds off.
“I would say it’s counter-intuitive,” says Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council.
The second study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a meta-analysis of 16 observational studies. There has been a hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk, but the reviewers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity.
“We continue to see more and more data coming out [finding that] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat,” Miller says.
I can’t help but wonder if this result is only true for some people and not others. Could Northern and Western Europeans be adapted for a diet that contains substantial dairy in as natural a form as possible? Seems reasonable to me. I suspect that my Swiss ancestors (who were dairymen) would have starved to death without butter, milk, and cheese and, judging by the church records, they lived to ripe old ages.