Strictly for health reasons, I’ve been drinking watery, gray-colored, low fat milk for years, pouring it over my breakfast cereal with zero enthusiasm. But now, thanks to an article by Andrew Weil, M.D. that I just stumbled on, I’ve finally gotten the happy message that low fat dairy products are not only not better for your health, but may even be detrimental to it.

In Rethinking Saturated Fats, a prime catalyst for changing Dr. Weil’s position was a scientific analysis of 21 earlier studies that showed no evidence saturated fats were in fact associated with high blood pressure, heart or vascular disease. One of the most influential of those studies by nutritionist Ancel Keys was controversial from the start. Rather than use available dietary information from 22 countries, Keys cherry-picked diet info from only seven countries to include in a report that suggested a strong correlation between diets high in saturated fat and heart disease (had he used all 22 countries, no correlation would have occurred). Yet Key’s doubtful findings were the basis for the Senate’s report in 1977, Dietary Goals for the United States, that urged Americans to eat less fat and more grains.

This directive was music to Big-Food’s ears. They immediately jumped aboard and engineered boatloads of processed foods geared to that report. In comparison to the cost of fats, these new grain based products — especially high-fructose corn syrup — were WAY cheaper to produce and WAY more profitable for food manufacturers.

Walter Willet at the Harvard School of Public Health said consumers were led to believe that all fats were bad and that foods loaded with white flour and sugar were healthier choices. “This has clearly contributed to the epidemic of diabetes we are experiencing and premature death for many,” he said. “It’s time to end this low-fat myth,”

In 2010 another study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a natural ingredient in dairy fat, trans-palmitoleic acid, might actually reduce the risk of both Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Weil writes that natural fats, including olive oil, butter, coconut oil, oily fish and even an occasional grass fed steak, are all healthy for you if eaten in moderation. Instead, it’s hydrogenated oils and polyunsaturates, like soybean and vegetable oil with their pro-inflammatory properties, that are to be avoided.

Care2.com agrees, in an article stating the world’s healthiest foods are whole foods. Their nutrients have a natural synergy with each other. When you remove some or all of the fat from milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of sync. “Basically, you discard all of the health benefits when you discard the fat.”

Lovely to hear. After too many years of drinking low fat skim milk, coming home to the rich taste and texture of whole milk is like coming home to smooth cream.

Have you made the switch?

More on the Food/Health Angle: