Some saturated fat in your diet could be healthy

Butter is good for you?

Well, not quite.

But mounting evidence seems to draw a connection between people who eat full-fat dairy, like butter, cream and milk (not skim) and reduced body fat, according to NPR.

The obsession with low-fat food and “bad fat” labeling lead to a banishment of saturated fat, the type of fat that appears in dairy and animal products. The USDA’s nutrition committee suggested in their 2010 guidelines that Americans consume no more than ten percent of their total calories from saturated fat.

In an article from earlier this year, NPR looked at two studies that drew a connection between higher fat dairy and low body fat:

1. Swedish researchers followed a group of middle-aged men for 12 years and found that those who ate full fat dairy were significantly less likely to become obese than those who avoided the high fat dairy.

2. A paper in the European Journal of Nutrition looked at 16 observational studies and could not support the theory that consumption of high fat dairy is linked to heart disease and obesity. They also found that the fattier dairy was connected to a lower risk of obesity.

Why could this be? It may be as simple as when we eat food with fat, we get full pretty fast — so ultimately the dairy could be making us eat less in general. The other option is that there are “bioactive” substances in the dairy that affect our metabolism in such a way that we burn the fat instead of storing it.

If fullness is the thing, then moderation is still pretty important, as always. And keep in mind, the idea that dairy may change our metabolism is suggested in the article by the executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, whose job it is to get us eating more cheese and whatnot.

Beyond the USDA, the Mayo Clinic and WebMD still suggest we stick to low-fat dairy.

The USDA plans to release their updated nutritional guidelines next year, so will this research play a role in their dairy recommendations?