Dairy Products; milk,cheese,ricotta, yogurt and butterThere is no doubt the benefits of a proper diet; but what, exactly, does that entail? For example, a new study suggests that full-fat dairy options might help lower diabetes risk.

In this new study, scientists analyzed blood samples from 3,333 adults to find that in a span of 15 years, those who consumed higher levels of dairy fat, on average, also had a 50 percent lower risk of diabetes.

As such, Dariush Mozaffarian, who is the dean of Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, notes while it appears there must be something in dairy fat that offers this protection, but they still need to learn more about the association.

In a second, related study—which has been published in the American Journal of Nutrition—researchers observed the relationship between full-fat and low-fat dairy and obesity risk in women [who had participated in the Women’s Health Study]. The researchers found that those women who consumed the most high-fat dairy items also had an 8 percent lower risk for developing obesity.

“We saw less weight gain for higher total dairy and high-fat dairy intake and also a lower risk of becoming overweight and obese in those who consumed more high-fat dairy,” explains study author Susanne Rautiainen, of Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Of course, high-fat dairy products contain more calories, so how could it be possible that these products are associated with a lower risk for weight issues? One possible answer: people who consume these items, perhaps, consume enough calories throughout the day so they are less likely to feel hungry, have unhealthy cravings, and eat randomly.

At the same time, dairy products also have components which can help the body to resist weight gain.

In the study, the researchers say: “Dairy products contain several components that may contribute to less weight gain and lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, including proteins, vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. Calcium has been suggested to play a key role in energy metabolism by forming insoluble soaps or binding bile acids.”

Again, all of these positive results do not necessarily lend to a recommendation that people should simply start consuming high-fat dairy. Mozaffarian notes, “The implications aren’t yet to tell people definitely to drink only whole milk and avoid skim milk. The story behind it is that our guidelines around dairy have always been based on the single nutrient, reductionist theories.”

It is time, then, to develop a new way of looking at dairy products.