Milk and Its Wholesome Goodness

By Alan and Bethany Barka
YF&R Committee Members

Ask most people what kind of food is the best, and they might say that fresh is best. There are many options out there to get your hands on fresh wholesome foods, especially in the coming summer months when local farmers markets open. One of the first foods that comes to my mind as a dairy farmer is milk. There are so many people today that reach for either skim or 1 percent milk because they think it will be better for them in the long run having a lower fat content. Is that really true?

There has been a lot of recent research on the benefits of drinking whole milk, especially in children. In a Toronto study of more than 2,700 children aged one to six, researchers found that those who drank whole milk had a Body Mass Index (BMI) score almost a full unit lower than kids who drank 1 percent or 2 percent milk. When comparing BMI scores, that’s comparable to the difference between having a healthy weight and being overweight. Kids who consumed whole-fat milk were roughly three times less likely to be overweight or obese and two times less likely to have a vitamin D deficiency compared with children who were given 1 percent milk.

Since full-fat dairy products contain more calories, many assume avoiding it would lower diabetes risk. But studies have found that when people reduce how much fat they eat, they tend to replace it with sugar or carbohydrates, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk. Another reason Minnesotans should consider whole milk is because of the vitamin D. Many that live here are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter season when sunlight is minimal. Whole milk is a way to help boost your vitamin D levels.

As a dairy farmer and educator, we want you to make sure you are getting your three servings of dairy a day, but also consider the benefits of eating fresh and wholesome foods such as drinking more whole milk.