The VPR Table: Wary of Dairy?

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The VPR Table

In the land of Ben & Jerry’s, you’d think Vermont would be on the cutting edge of dairy. Still, folks seem wary about whole fat milk products.  How good is milk for your body?

We’ll look at dairy when it reduces heart disease.

Tune in Friday evening and Saturday morning when Rowan Jacobsen debunks nutritional misinformation that’s remained in our popular culture for decades.


Don’t Be Wary of Dairy

The other day I watched a
friend who was concerned about his cholesterol levels choose to eat skim milk,
low-fat cheese, and a butter substitute. I was shocked. Even in a dairy state
like Vermont, could perfectly intelligent people be clinging to nutritional
misinformation that’s thirty years out of date? Apparently so. Which means that
it’s time to set the record straight.

Full-fat dairy is very good for you. Whole milk,
unctuous cheese, cream, even butter. Major study after major study has proven
this. One recent paper in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition
showed that those who ate the most full-fat
dairy products had a whopping 69 percent lower rate of cardiovascular death
compared to those who ate the fewest. Another study found that men who ate at
least five tablespoons a day of butter had a lower risk of heart attack than those who ate none. Those who ate
five or more tablespoons of margarine per day had a much higher one.

How could this be? Isn’t dairy full of saturated fat?
Yes, it is, but saturated fat stands unjustly accused. Decades ago,
nutritionists noticed that people who ate a traditional western diet had higher
rates of diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. Because the western diet was
high in saturated fat, they theorized that saturated fat must be the villain.
They were wrong. It turned out that sugar and processed seed oils-the Criscos
of the world-were responsible. But by then it was too late. Once the media and
the public believes something, it’s very difficult to get them to change.

Experts are trying. Here’s a recent comment by a top
doctor at the Harvard School of Public Health: "The
proportion of total energy from fat appears largely unrelated to risk of
cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or obesity. Saturated fat has little
relation to heart disease." In other words, fat doesn’t make you fat, and it
doesn’t make you sick. This is not some wacky New Age doctor, folks; this is
Harvard talking. Their latest research shows that the single best thing you can
do to prevent diabetes is to eat whole dairy products. Which should be no
hardship for us. Vermont is filled with some of the most delightful
milks, butters, and cheeses on the planet. And we can’t afford not to eat them.

is a great article about Dairy’s protective effect against

And here
are the quotes from Dariush Mozaffarian, the doctor at Harvard School of
Public Health.

And here
is a summary of the recent studies on full-fat dairy’s health


For more on omega-3s
The best work on omega-3s is Susan Alport’s book The
Queen of Fats
For an introduction to the subject, try Alport’s
articles Seasons of




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