The Dairy Myth: Full Fat vs Non Fat

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Milk 1080X675 1 | The Dairy Myth: Full Fat Vs Non Fat

Since the time we were young, the “3 dairy a day” campaign taught us that “getting in our calcium” was important for building healthy bones.  And not just any dairy, but low-fat and fat-free dairy.Obviously, the better choice when it comes to fueling our bodies (and not getting fat), right?


If you thought you were doing your body a favor by reaching for the low-fat cheese, fat-free yogurt or skim milk, you may want to think again…


Which is more nutritious?:

A.  Grass-fed butter or B. Parkay “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”

A. Patured-raised Eggs or B. Egg Whites

A.  Heavy Whipping Cream or  B. Half-and-Half Sugar Free Creamer

A. Full-fat Yogurt or Fat-free Yogurt

If you answered “A. ” across the board, you get an A+.


Within the nutrition world, it seems there is always some new evolution or “breaking news” find—countering the last 10 year’s school of thought.
  • At one time whole grains were good…then they became “bad” and fattening.
  • Artificial sweeteners were the answer for curbing our sugar cravings…until we found out it had the same (if not worse) physical side effects on our blood sugar levels and cravings.
  • And low-fat and fat-free dairy choices were the “right choice”…until now.
As with many things in life, grandmother typically knows best—all the way down to the yogurt and milk you choose at the supermarket:
The real full-fat versions of foods, particularly dairy, are actually better for your health (Be it: weight loss, muscle gain, hormone balance, enhanced energy or digestion).
In fact, “authorities”, like US News, CBS News  and Time Magazine are even beginning to agree.
Unfortunately, this is completely opposite of what we’ve been told by the USDA, dietitians and other health authorities for years—claiming, “Choose low-fat, fat-free dairy.”


I get it.
Low-fat and fat-free dairy seems healthier.
It’s lighter.
Maybe you’ve even trained your taste-buds to like it better
BUT the thing about opting for low-fat and non-fat sources of dairy is that we are essentially eating a processed food version of dairy. Not to mention, MISSING OUT on the REAL nutrient benefits dairy CAN provide, including:



So what to choose when shopping for groceries?
The Gold Standard: Make friends with a farmer. If you tolerate dairy or want to make it part of your daily diet, the platinum version to choose is the raw variety from grass-fed cows, goats, and sheep that have not been pasteurized. (Pasteurization deactivates the enzymes in milk, making it harder to digest).
Raw milk contains greater amounts of vitamin A-rich butterfat, omega 3 fats, healthy unoxidized cholesterol, and CLAs. It also is tolerated better by lactose-intolerant individuals and those who suffer from a variety of ailments (often associated with dairy), including: allergies, anemia, thyroid problems, Autism, and skin breakouts.
However, most of us do not live on a farm and raw milk is pretty hard to come by in your grocery store.
The next best choice?

Pasteurized, full-fat, organic milk from grass-fed animals.

Full fat? Are you sure?!
Yes, it’s hard to believe I know.
But it is still healthier to consume for most of us than their further processed, low- or non-fat varieties.



Here are some brands and varieties to look out for in the land of dairy:

Yogurt (Look for a plain, organic, full-fat versions of yogurt or Greek Yogurt with “Live and Active Cultures” as the only ingredient)

Organic Valley Plain Yogurt
Maple Hill Creamery
Straus Full-fat Plain Yogurt
Stonyfield Farm Organics
Wallaby Full-fat Plain White Mountain Foods
Coyo Yogurt (Coconut-based, but oh, so good!)
  • Brown Cow: Clever packaging. Non-organic. No “live and active cultures.” L. acidophilus or Bifidus probiotic strains.
  • Chobani: Whole Foods removed the brand from their stores a couple years ago, because their cows were given GMO feed. Since then they’ve undergone a re-branding but do not offer full-fat and plain.
  • Fage, Greek Gods, Oikos: Comes in plain and full-fat, but is from cows likely fed GMO feed
  • Yoplait: No plain or full-fat versions. Grain-fed cows. NOT authentic Greek yogurt. It contains thickeners, preservatives, food dye and sugar/artificial sugar.


Real Milk Finder *Find real milk in your area
Organic Valley Grassmilk  
365 Whole Foods Milk
  • Horizon Organic (False marketing. Cows are not pasture raised, and the milking facility houses 4000+ cows on site)
  • Grocery Chain brands-Conventional milk


Maple Hill Creamery
Organic Valley Grassmilk Cheese (100% Grass-fed)
Local Farmer’s Markets and Natural Grocery Stores will probably carry
Steer clear of string cheese, shredded cheese, cheese slices and imitation cheeses; go for the ‘real deal’-block of cheese or cheese in its main form that have been “unpasteurized” and grass-fed


Kerrygold Grass-fed Butter
Vital Farms Grass-fed Butter
Tin Star Foods Ghee
Purity Farms Ghee


While dairy can totally fit into a balanced diet, like many other foods, it is recommended that you be in touch with truly how it makes you feel, as well as the addictive properties some foods can have—especially when we are intolerant or sensitive to them in the first place (Check out Steph’s interesting post on Stupid Easy Paleo about cheese addiction.
No matter if you choose full-fat dairy or fat-free dairy, if you are pre-disposed to have digestion difficulties, leaky gut or other health ailments, like autoimmune disease, anxiety or skin breakouts, giving your body (and gut) time to heal first is recommended (in order to fully tolerate and absorb all the nutrients dairy CAN be provide).
How do you KNOW if you tolerate dairy or not? Or if you have “leaky gut” or not? Maybe you do…maybe you don’t…
Connect with me for a free consult and let’s chat your body, your health and your personal nutrition goals.


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