I come from a family of farmers. So pure, unpasteurized, full-fat milk was a staple of my diet growing up.
When I’d go to my grandma’s, she’d pour me a glass straight from the bucket — which came straight from the cow.
My siblings and I would go through a gallon a week per person.
But if you’re like most Americans, you have never tasted real milk…
It sounds shocking, doesn’t it?
But walk through the dairy section of any store and you’ll see shelf after shelf of low-fat cheese, milk and yogurt. Is it healthier? No. The truth is, fat isn’t as dangerous for you as they’re leading you to believe.
And medical groups quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Even today the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society all urge us all to choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Real milk that comes from grass-fed cows. It’s packed with protein, fat, calcium and vitamin D.
But as you know, mainstream medicine has been blaming full-fat dairy for heart disease for almost 50 years. But the science never really backed up that theory.
I have never bought into this low-fat myth. And now the truth is coming out in a big way…
A new study in the prestigious journal the Lancet followed 136,384 people in 21 countries for 10 years. It found that people who have three servings of full-fat dairy a day had lower rates of heart disease and early death compared to those who ate fewer servings.1
And a big study in the European Journal of Nutrition recently reviewed 25 studies on low-fat dairy. It found that people who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who stick to low-fat. They also weigh less and have a lower risk of obesity.2
Another review of 21 studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at data from more than 350,000 people over 23 years. It found NO evidence that saturated fat increased the risk of heart disease or stroke.3
Human beings evolved over thousands of years eating saturated fats in dairy and meat. In fact, our ancestors ate diets of 30% to 80% fat. And heart disease was rare.
The truth is animal fat is GOOD for your heart…
The famous Sydney Diet Heart Study looked at heart patients eating polyunsaturated fats like margarine and canola oil. People eating more polyunsaturated fats and less saturated fat had HIGHER death rates from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. In fact, the death rate for the so-called “healthy” fats was about 70% higher.4
I advise my patients to aim for 60% to 70% fat in their diet. And half of that fat should come from saturated fats. Here’s why…
Dairy is rich in a heart-healthy fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Studies show CLA protects against heart attacks. In a study from Harvard, researchers looked at the levels of CLA in the fat tissue of 1,813 heart attack patients. They compared them to patients who had never had a heart attack.
The results were stunning… People who ate the most full-fat dairy like butter had the highest levels of CLA compared to those who ate the least. And they were 49% less likely to have a heart attack.5
Butter is the best source of CLA. But make sure you get butter from grass-fed or pastured animals. Grass-fed butter is five times higher in CLA than regular butter.
And don’t be fooled by cooking oils like corn, soybean, canola, cottonseed, and sunflower oils. I don’t recommend these fats at all. Most of them are genetically modified. And when you heat them they can produce trans-fats that raise your risk of heart attack.
Add These 4 Healthy Fats to Your Foods
These days, it’s hard to get the full-fat milk like the kind I drank as a kid. That’s why in addition to butter, I recommend these four healthy fats for cooking in your kitchen:
- Lard. This old-fashioned fat has very low levels of polyunsaturated fats. Instead it has 40% saturated fat and 50% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are the same healthy fats you find in olive oil and avocados. They help balance your blood sugar, reduce belly fat and inflammation, and protect your cholesterol from becoming oxidized.
Purchase lard from your farmer or butcher so you know for sure it comes from pastured animals.
- Olive Oil. This superfood has a relatively low smoke point at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that its healthy compounds break down. That means you shouldn’t fry or sauté with it. It’s great as a salad dressing or dip.
- Coconut Oil. This is one of my favorite kitchen oils. It has a distinct sweet flavor. Look for cold-pressed and virgin coconut oil. It’s very stable and has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I use it for frying, pan-searing and sautéing. I also like to add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil to my protein smoothie in the morning. Or add it to a cup of coffee.
- Grape Seed Oil. This has a very high smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use it safely for frying or pan-searing meats and fish. I like using it to stir-fry.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Dehghan M, et al. “Association of dairy intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 21 countries from five continents (PURE): A prospective cohort study.” Lancet. 2018. pii: S0140-6736(18)31812-31819.
2. Kratz M, et al. “The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease.” Eur J Nutr 2013;52 (1):1-24.
3. Siri-Tarino P, et al. “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(3):535–546.
4. Ramsden CE, et al. “Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: Evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis.” BMJ. 2013;346:e8707.
5. Smit LA, et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(1):34-40.