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Articles Fitness Nutrition

Skim Milk vs. Milk: Which Is the Healthier Choice?

Apr 21, 2010

Skim milk is made by physically separating and removing the fat content from whole dairy milk. Since fat removal also strips the milk of all its fat-soluble vitamins, skim milk must be fortified with vitamins A and D to make up for the loss of nutrition. For the general population, skim milk serves as an excellent nutritional substitute for whole milk. It is the more favorable choice if you are on a reduced fat diet or have a higher risk of heart disease. However, there are experts who question the safety of the skimming process and argue that drinking skim milk instead of whole milk can result in adverse health effects.

Cardiovascular Health

The biggest disadvantage of whole milk is its high content of saturated fat. One cup of whole milk contains 5 grams of saturated fat which is nearly a quarter of your daily intake limit. Whole milk is also high in cholesterol with about 25 milligrams per serving. High dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol can significantly increase your chances for fatal diseases like strokes and heart attacks. If you have or have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other cardiovascular disorders, switching from regular to nonfat milk is definitely a necessary change. Elderly people should also drink skim rather than whole milk to prevent cholesterol buildup in their blood vessels. In fact, studies have linked low fat or skim milk consumption to decreased risks of arterial hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Calcium Source

Perhaps the most important nutritional value of milk is its high content of calcium. One cup of milk can supply about 25% to 30% of your daily recommended calcium intake. Dairy calcium is easier to absorb than calcium from vegetarian sources, and by removing the fat content, calcium absorption becomes even more efficient. Studies have shown that saturated fat in whole milk can deter your intestinal uptake of calcium. Therefore for elderly people and especially postmenopausal women who are in higher jeopardy of calcium deficiency, drinking skim milk is the best solution to prevent diseases like osteoporosis, high blood pressure and neuromuscular disorders.

Fertility and Cancer

A study in 2006 suggests that high intake of low fat or skim milk can impair a woman’s ability to ovulate whereas the intake of high fat dairy foods can improve female fertility. If you are planning for a baby or currently pregnant, you should stick to drinking whole milk.

Some studies have shown that drinking skim milk can reduce your potential of colorectal cancer. Others suggest that skim milk can promote the onset of male prostate cancer whereas whole milk can help prevent it. Up to the current date, there is still no absolute conclusion on how milk affects cancer risks.

Weight Management

The popular choice for weight control is skim milk. It is significantly lower in calories and fat content. Some specialty skim milk varieties are stripped of sugar and fortified with extra protein to make them more conducive to weight loss. However, there are evidences that suggest the conjugated linoleic acid in whole milk can help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass. So in this light, you can benefit from drinking either whole or non fat milk if you watch your daily caloric intake.

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