Photo via Flickr user Andrew Magill
It seems that we've been sold a lot of lies by the big milk companies, and the powerful dairy farming lobbies that back them.For starters, the calcium cabal managed to convince an entire generation, through savvy marketing and behind-the-scenes advocacy, that the cow's teat is a sacred source of pure, white nutrition.But scientific research on milk yields counterintuitive results, to say the least. Even the most basic assumption—that milk is fundamentally good for your health—has been shown to be far from accepted.
For example, last year, a Swedish study looking at the medical records of 100,000 people actually found a positive correlation between high milk consumption and mortality, meaning that milk could actually been killing you instead of making you stronger.And the long-held conventional wisdom that milk is good for your bones has also been hotly contested, with mounds of research pointing in the other direction. Believe it or not—milk might actually be detrimental for the sturdiness of your bones. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found "no clinical trial evidence" of milk consumption strengthening bones or preventing fractures. The evidence was at best "weak and inconsistent."And now, it seems as though another (white) lie about milk has been debunked by science. Namely, that whole milk is bad for you and that low-fat dairy carries a lower risk of heart disease.The Washington Post reports that the bulk of scientific data actually points in the other direction and it seems that even the federal government has been complicit in peddling inaccuracies about dairy products.
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"Research published in recent years indicates that the opposite might be true: millions might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk," Peter Whoriskey writes, adding that scientists studying the problem have found that "contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease."
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While low-fat milks like skim and one percent are far more popular in America, their fattier, bad-boy sibling—whole milk—has been remained in the shadows because of its higher fat content. It's not even allowed in schools.But research from Harvard, using blood tests to measure saturated fat level, suggests that the highest consumers of dairy fat were in fact far less likely to develop heart disease compared to those who consume the least.All of this flies in the face of current assumptions about saturated fats and highlights the need for an overhaul of US Dietary Guidelines which have instructed Americans to "steer clear" of whole milk for decades."There is no scientific basis for current dietary advice regarding dairy," nutrition researcher Jocelyne R. Benatar told the Washington Post. "Fears [about whole milk] are not supported by evidence. The message that it is okay to have whole fat food, including whole fat milk, is slowly seeping into consciousness. But there is always a lag between evidence and changes in attitude."Yet, despite an abundance of scientific data shedding light on saturated fats, and their potential health benefits, the federal government's Dietary Guidelines continue to push for a low-fat, high-carb daily intake, all the while tarnishing the good name of whole milk.But when it comes to heart disease, the carbs may well be the culprit, America. "There's a large body of scientific literature to show that a high-carb diet, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, provokes a number of heart-disease risk factors," author Nina Teicholz told the Washington Post.So as the milk conspiracy continues to unravel, we may not even be able to trust the federal government. Trust no one.