FULL-fat latte drinkers should no longer feel guilty with new research suggesting there is no reason to avoid high-fat dairy foods and they may actually offer health benefits, according to Dairy Australia.
For decades dietary advice has recommended the consumption of reduced-fat milk and dairy products based on the belief saturated fat in dairy foods increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But a world-first scientific review challenges these recommendations, concluding there is no compelling reason to avoid dairy fat.
The study recently published in the European Journal of Nutrition reviewed numerous studies that examined the association between high-fat dairy intake and obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The authors found high-fat dairy consumption was not linked to obesity, with 11 of the 16 studies showing higher dairy fat intake was associated with lower body fat levels and less fat gain over time.
High-fat dairy food consumption was not typically linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes risk, with a number of studies showing a protective effect.
Dairy Australia dietitian Glenys Zucco said the study reinforced the importance of taking a whole food approach rather than looking at single nutrients in foods.
"For many years people have thought full-fat dairy is unhealthy because of its saturated fat, but dairy fat is complex containing many types of fatty acids thought to have specific health benefits," she said.
"In addition dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain a unique package of 10 essential nutrients such as high quality proteins, calcium and potassium.
"It is more important Australians get the health benefits of eating enough dairy foods rather than being hung up on the fat content."
The latest research results follow another recent study which examined the impact of different food sources of saturated fats on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers from Harvard followed 6814 adults for 10 years collecting dietary information and recording incidences of cardiovascular disease.
They found higher intakes of saturated fat from dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt were associated with a lower cardiovascular disease risk.
While butter consumption did not show a protective effect, there was no association between saturated fat intake from butter and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.