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Can I Consume Dairy Products While On a Low Cholesterol Diet?

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Updated April 22, 2014

Question: Can I Consume Dairy Products While On a Low Cholesterol Diet?
Answer: Dairy products like milk are important to our diets, since they contain many nutrients such as vitamins and calcium. Unfortunately, these products also contain saturated fat, which can be a problem if you are trying to lower your cholesterol. When shopping for dairy products like milk, it is important to know that the lower the amount of saturated fats contained in your milk product, the less likely it will raise your cholesterol.

Many types of milk products are available, and they are labeled based upon the amount of saturated fat they contain. For instance, whole milk contains the highest amounts of saturated fat, since none of it has been removed during processing. This type of milk product contains 3 percent of saturated milk or higher. On the other hand, skim milk (also known as fat-free or non-fat milk) has had all of its saturated fat content removed.

Additionally, there are different types of milk that have some saturated fat content, but not near as much as whole milk. The most commonly available forms are 1 percent, and 1 percent. When a milk product is labeled “2 percent,” it means that the milk product contains only 2 percent of saturated fat. This type of milk is also known as “reduced-fat” milk. “One percent” milk products contain a saturated fat content of 1 percent. This is also known as “low-fat” milk. So, the less saturated fat you have in milk, the better this will be for lowering your cholesterol.

You may have also seen soy milk or products made with soy milk in your grocery store. There are healthier alternatives to dairy products for those who are vegetarian or who cannot tolerate animal-based milk. Soy milk contains soy protein, which is protein found in the soy bean plant. Many studies have suggested that soy may be able to lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, soy milk does not contain the high amount of saturated fats that animal-based milk products contain.

Sources:

Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 3rd ed 2005.

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