Dietary guidelines have for decades recommended choosing low-fat dairy products due to the high content of saturated fat in dairy known to increase blood concentration of LDL cholesterol. However, meta-analyses including observational studies show no association between overall dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and even point to an inverse association with type 2 diabetes. The objective was to compare the effects of whole milk (3.5% fat) with skimmed milk (0.1% fat) on fasting serum blood lipids, insulin, and plasma glucose in healthy subjects.
A randomized, controlled 2 × 3-week crossover dietary intervention in 18 healthy adults randomly assigned to a sequence of treatments consisting of 0.5 L/d of whole milk and skimmed milk as part of their habitual diet. A total of 17 subjects completed the intervention.
Whole milk increased HDL cholesterol concentrations significantly compared to skimmed milk (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences between whole milk and skimmed milk in effects on total and LDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol, insulin, and glucose concentrations.
Intake of 0.5 L/d of whole milk did not adversely affect fasting blood lipids, glucose, or insulin compared to skimmed milk. Moreover, intake of whole milk increased HDL cholesterol concentration compared to skimmed milk. These findings suggest that if the higher energy content is taken into account, whole milk might be considered a part of a healthy diet among the normocholesterolemic population.
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We thank our biomedical laboratory technician Hanne Lysdal Petersen for technical assistance. The authors’ responsibilities were as follows—SE and TT: designed the study; SE and ME: conducted the study; SE: performed the statistical analysis, wrote the manuscript, and had primary responsibility for the final content of the manuscript; TT: supplied valuable knowledge and scientific consultation throughout the study; and all authors: read and approved the final manuscript. The study was supported by the Danish Dairy Research Foundation. The milk was donated by Arla Foods, Denmark. The sponsors had no influence on the execution of the study, the analysis and interpretation of data, or the manuscripts and its conclusions. The trial is registered at: http://www.clinicaltrial.gov (NCT03052582).
Conflict of interest
TT has received research grants from Arla Foods, Denmark; The Danish Dairy Research Foundation; and the Dairy Research Industry, Rosemont, IL. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.
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Engel, S., Elhauge, M. & Tholstrup, T. Effect of whole milk compared with skimmed milk on fasting blood lipids in healthy adults: a 3-week randomized crossover study. Eur J Clin Nutr 72, 249–254 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-017-0042-5
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