Is skim milk really best? Maybe not, suggest new studies that challenge the long-held dietary recommendation.

A recently published study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Healthcare analyzed dairy fat intake and central obesity among a group of middle-aged men over a 12-year period. Researchers found that high intake of dairy fat (from foods like butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream) was associated with a lower risk of central obesity, while low intake of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that full-fat dairy may actually be beneficial for our health. Another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition reviewed 16 observational studies and found most of the studies linked high-fat dairy foods with a lower risk of obesity. In addition, the relationship between high-fat dairy intake and both cardiovascular disease and diabetes proved inconsistent.

In an NPR article, Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, describes the findings as "counter-intuitive" and says, "We continue to see more and more data coming out [finding that] consumption of whole-milk dairy products is associated with reduced body fat."

Check out the slideshow above to learn more details and possible explanations for the new findings.

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Tags: Food Report, Beverage, Healthy, Low Fat, Dairy

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