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Should I eat full-fat or low-fat dairy?

What is the difference between low-fat and full-fat dairy? Full-fat, or regular dairy products, contain their normal levels of fat. Full-fat dairy has a higher level of saturated fat than low-fat alternatives. Low-fat dairy products have most of the fat removed during production.

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, protein, iodine and vitamin B12, among many other nutrients. However, due to their higher levels of saturated fats that contribute to overall energy intake, lower fat alternatives can be a better option. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating states that the best choice for adults is lower fat dairy alternatives, to reduce the intake of saturated fat in the diet. Lowering overall saturated fat intake can reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity. However, be aware that lower-fat dairy options such as yoghurts or cheeses can have added sugars or salts to increase their flavour. A “low-fat” label does not necessarily mean a product is healthy.

If you’re only having a splash of milk in your coffee, choosing full-fat milk may be okay. However, if you’re eating a few dairy products every day in combination with other higher energy food choices, choosing low-fat dairy options is probably a good idea.

If weight loss is your goal, opting for low fat dairy options can help you reach your goals more easily. It is important to look at your diet as a whole, as dairy is probably not the only thing you’re eating. Discussing your eating habits – particularly full-fat or low-fat options – with a dietitian can assist in finding great strategies for weight loss or overall health.