If you thought you were doing your body a favor by reaching for the low-fat cheese, fat-free yogurt or skim milk, think again.

By Dr. Lauryn Lax

Remnants of the low-fat diet trend still prevail in food marketing. In such products like low-fat yogurt, the words “low-fat” may be written in bold letters, making it seem like that product is a healthier alternative to the full-fat version. When browsing the grocery-store aisles, stop reaching for low-fat yogurt, skim milk and low-fat cheese. The real, full-fat versions of these foods are actually better for your health in terms of weight loss, hormonal balance and digestion.

When you eat low-fat or nonfat sources of dairy, you are essentially eating processed dairy products, and even though it may seem counterintuitive, full-fat, organic dairy is a better pick for optimal health. So, what are the benefits of full-fat dairy?

  1. Probiotics. Don’t fall for the gimmicks of other fat-free or low-fat dairy products claiming to have probiotics. Non-heat-treated and non-processed dairy with live and active cultures are what you should be looking for.
  2. Better digestion. Healthy fats are essential for digestion. Without fat, our bodies aren’t able to absorb the nutrients in the dairy products themselves, especially the vitamins and calcium. In addition, full-fat, non-heat-treated and non-processed dairy contains enzymes that aid in the digestion process.
  3. Satiation. The combo of fat and protein in dairy promotes a feeling of fullness. Removing much or all of that fat leaves you less satisfied and growing hungry quicker.
  4. No additives or sugar. If you buy anything other than plain yogurt, you can end up eating as much as 30 grams of sugar in one serving! Additionally, when you drink skim milk or eat fat-free yogurt, you miss out on the satiating, blood-sugar-stabilizing effects of saturated fat. And although artificial sweeteners seem like the healthier alternative, they can have the same effects on your blood sugar as white sugar.
  5. Lower lactose. For those who are lactose-intolerant or lactose-sensitive, the best bet is full-fat, grass-fed dairy, which is naturally lower in lactose than other products, particularly full-fat organic yogurt and hard cheese. Full-fat and organic goat’s-milk and sheep’s-milk dairy products are also lower in lactose.
  6. Metabolic Health. If your goal is to gain muscle or lose body fat, full-fat dairy is the way to go. Get this: In a 2013 European Journal of Nutrition research review, 11 of the 16 studies found participants who consumed high-fat dairy products either weighed less or gained less weight over time than their counterparts who consumed the low-fat versions.

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