Skim Milk… A Scam?!

If you do a side by side ingredient label comparison between reduced fat milk and whole milk, you’ll find one notable difference between the two: reduced fat milk of any kind contains Vitamin A Palmitate, while whole milk does not.  Recently, a blog subscriber emailed me about this carrier agent that is added to 1%, 2%, reduced fat, and skim milks during processing.  The question asked of me was whether or not there are any health risks involved in consuming palmitate, and if so, should a switch to whole milk be considered.  After researching, I’ve come up with 5 reasons why you should consider switching to whole milk.  But before we get to that, here is a quick overview of why palmitate is added to certain types of milk in the first place.

Vitamin A Palmitate fortifies reduced fat milk after the fat has been removed in processing.  The techniques use to separate the fats out of fat-free milk strip the milk of many essential nutrients, including Vitamin A.  Therefore, dairies pump Vitamin A back into fat-free milk by introducing Palmitate into the mixture.  It’s a rather ironic process of trying to replace the Vitamin A nutrients that were taken out of the milk, but existed naturally in the milk in the first place.  Interestingly, Palmitate itself is not unsafe if ingested in appropriate amounts.  Vitamin A deficiencies lead to a variety of health complications, yet if ingested too much Palmitate can lead to birth defects for pregnant women and liver damage for all.  However, in the amounts that exist in fat-free milks, the Food and Drug Administrations feels it doesn’t pose a serious or threatening health risk (Ray).

With this information in mind, here are a few reasons why you may be compelled to switch to whole milk:

1.  It helps you gain pounds instead of shedding them (Green).

In a study conducted in the spring of 2013 by the Archives of Disease in Childhood, scientists concluded that toddlers who drank skim milk had higher BMIs than toddlers who drank whole milk.  The science behind this suggests that because fats are absent in skim milk, the body craves sugars and carbohydrates, thus contributing to weight gain (Green).

2.  Whole milk doesn’t lead to spikes in blood sugar (Sarah).

Skim milk will make you feel hungrier sooner, yet whole milk has been found to reduce the intensity of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.  Try this at home: drink whole milk for a week and skim milk for a week and see if you notice a difference in how long you feel full and satiated after each glass of milk (Sarah).

3.  It’s a whole food.

This one’s simple: whole milk comes from cows and is not subjected to intense methods of processing where vitamins and other nutrients are stripped from the milk, only to then be fortified and supplemented back in.  It’s the great paradox of the dairy industry- pumping out naturally occurring Vitamin A from whole milk to create reduced fat milks, only to then fortify it with substances such as Palmitate in an attempt to replicate the original nutrients (Ray).

4.  Farmers feed their pigs skim milk in order for them to get fatter, faster (Sarah).

Hey, it may be an old wives’ tale, but better safe than sorry, right? 🙂

5.  Whole milk has more omega-threes (Wartman).

We all know the nutritional benefits of omega-threes from previous blog posts, and they are worth all of the repeating.. they’re super nutrients that everybody can’t get enough of!

What type of milk do you drink?  Why?  If you drink reduced fat milk usually, are you considering switching to whole milk?  Let me know!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Green, Emma. “The Controversial Life of Skim Milk.”  The Atlantic. 20 November 2013: Web. The Atlantic Monthly. 29 July 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/the-controversial-life-of-skim-milk/281655/>

Sarah. “Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease.” The Healthy Home Economist. Austus Foods, LLC. 2013. Web. 29 July 2014. <http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/why-skim-milk-will-make-you-fat-and/>

Ray, Clairborne. “Q&A; Stand-In Vitamin.” The New York Times. 10 December 2002: Web. The New York Times Company. 29 July 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/10/science/q-a-stand-in-vitamin.html>

Wartman, Kristin. “Got (Organic Whole) Milk? New Study Says It’s Healthier.” The Huffington Post. 18 December 2013: Web. The Huffington Post.com, Incorporated. 29 July 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-wartman/got-organic-whole-milk-ne_b_4421306.html>

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6 thoughts on “Skim Milk… A Scam?!

  1. Mrs. Dellovo

    Great post, Katie. For some reason I always switch back and forth between whole milk and low fat milk, but after reading this I will definitely just be sticking with the whole milk! Thanks for the info! Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

  2. Jen

    Hi Katie,
    Thanks for another great blog! Interesting about the milk process… I have completely switched over to coconut milk and almond milk as alternatives. (I actually have been making my own almond milk). Almond milk is higher in calcium than traditional milk, and it tastes great in my breakfast smoothies.
    Thanks again!

  3. El

    That was an interesting post! I have been drinking 2 percent for a long time, so I’m ever grateful that I read this! Next time I shop I will from now on, drink whole milk only. So much I don’t know!! I know I have said this before but without your “Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat” I would be so in the dark about many subjects. Keep helping us make a difference in our lives. 🙂

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