Fat is needed for a wide range of important physiological functions. “Fat is a primary nutrient for maintaining normal metabolic processes, and certain types of fatty acids – called essential fatty acids – can only be obtained through diet,” says Researcher. Your muscles, including your heart, need fat for energy. It is an important component of your cell membranes and plays a crucial role in the production of hormones. Many vitamins and nutrients are also fat soluble, which means your body needs fat to absorb them. Essential fatty acids strengthen the immune system and suppress system-wide inflammation; fat also makes up almost 60% of your brain.

What is the whole milk paradox?

The high-fat dairy paradox suggests that if you opt for low-fat versions of dairy products, you are more likely to become obese and unhealthy than those who eat high-fat versions. The paradox has caused a lot of confusion over the consumption of dairy products. How does it make sense to eat low fat dairy products in an effort to stay lean when it has the potential to make you unhealthy? In order to make low-fat dairy products taste good, fat has been replaced with sugar. Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain, obesity and other illnesses chronic like cardiovascular disease. Additionally, replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates may pose a greater health risk, especially in association with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Which dairy products are healthiest?

  • Look for shorter ingredient lists. Reach for full-fat dairy when the alternatives aren’t overly processed with added ingredients like sugar. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and mozzarella, all products that contain a healthy balance of fats without added ingredients, may make the cut.
  • Make smart reduced-fat decisions. “While low-fat options like low-fat Greek yogurt may have somewhat fewer nutrients compared with its whole-fat counterpart, it’s still extremely rich in micronutrients and macronutrients, such as protein, with almost no saturated fats, sugar, or refined carbohydrates,” Connolly said. As a bonus, this reduced-fat option also has fewer calories, which could allow you a little extra room in your daily goals.

Our Dairy Picks

Because lactose intolerance or sensitivity is so common, we recommend dairy products that pose fewer digestive difficulties.

Greek yogurt

Because it’s been fermented and strained, Greek yogurt is lower in lactose and easier for most people to digest than a glass of cow’s milk. Most Greek yogurts also contain probiotics that help increase the good bacteria in your gut.

Kefir

Similar to a thin yogurt, kefir is also fermented and rich in probiotics. Though goat- and cow’s-milk kefir are already low in lactose, you can also make a lactose-free version with coconut water or fruit juice.

Butter

Butter is made by removing the liquid component of cream, resulting in a final product that’s approximately 80 percent fat, with a low lactose content. Be sure to choose organic — any toxins or antibiotics will be concentrated in the animal fat — and grassfed, which contains higher levels of health-promoting omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Ghee

Ghee is butter that’s been clarified to produce an animal fat that’s even lower in lactose and casein — and its smoke point is higher than butter’s, making it useful for cooking.

Heavy cream

Like butter, heavy cream is a high-fat product that contains almost no lactose — so if you’re dairy sensitive, you may still be able to tolerate a splash of cream in your coffee.

Aged cheeses

The bacteria in cheese break down some of the lactose as the cheese ages, meaning Parmesan, sharp cheddar, Manchego, and similar varieties can often be tolerated by those with dairy intolerance.

Goat’s milk

Higher in omega-3s and CLA than cow’s milk, goat’s milk contains less lactose and more prebiotics, which benefit your microbiome.

Because fat is such an important element of flavor, dairy products usually don’t taste as good without it. So, manufacturers often replace saturated fat with sugar and other additives to compensate for the loss of flavor and texture.