Dairy's reputation has taken a bit of a hit lately. Between almond milk mania and trendy dairy-free diets like the Whole30 and Paleo plans, cow products aren't getting much love.
But according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, we might want to think twice before switching to soy.
To get a handle on how dairy products impact our weight over time, researchers monitored the dairy intake of over 18,000 normal weight women over the course of 11 years.
They found that those who ate more dairy gained less weight than those who consumed little dairy or nixed the nutrition group entirely. Take that, cheese haters!
What’s even crazier is that the effects were strongest in women who consumed more full-fat dairy, like whole milk. In fact, there were no waistline benefits associated with low-fat dairy products at all. (Bye, skim milk.)
Should you take this nod from science as an excuse to make daily trips to the ice cream truck? Not necessarily.
Dr Niket Sonpal, assistant clinical professor at Tuoro College of Medicine in New York City, says the effects might have more to do with other lifestyle choices.
“Starting out with a normal BMI implies that you exercise or live a healthier lifestyle, and thus a higher fat content in your dairy is a washout. In other words, you started healthier so you stay healthier,” he says.
Exactly why dairy helps you stay slim is still a bit foggy. But dairy products contain several nutrients that stave off weight gain, including protein, vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus, says Sonpal.
The bottom line: Loading up on cheese and milk might not help you lose weight in the short term. But incorporating that good stuff as part of a healthy diet may give future weight gain the boot. We'll take it!