Cow's milk increases cholesterol levels

Fat and cholesterol: it's all about whole milk

Buttercream versus icing

It doesn't seem unimportant in what form milk comes on the table. Milk fat is present as fat droplets, which is held together by a membrane consisting of phospholipids and peptides and thus kept in solution. Butter only provides half as many membrane parts as cream. Because: When buttering, the casings are mechanically destroyed and mostly separated with the buttermilk. Only the fatty acids remain in the butter. In 2015, a team led by Fredrik Rosqvist from Uppsala University found that butterfat alone raised the cholesterol levels in test subjects' blood, but not the icing on the cake.

"Presumably, the membrane molecules counteract the effect of saturated fatty acids on the cholesterol level in the blood," says Rosqvist. Animal studies suggest that phospholipids from milk activate genes in the liver that lower LDL. Cheese also has less of an impact on cholesterol than butter. In addition, fermentation by bacteria in yogurt, mildly acidified butter, kefir, buttermilk or cheese, for example, has a significant influence on the chemical mixture. "Which dairy products are particularly healthy has not yet been researched enough to be able to make recommendations," says Krauss.

What is certain is that ice cream and pizza cheese are not one of them. However, Americans mainly eat milk and dairy products in this form, while Europeans choose from a whole range of different products. This could also explain the contradicting studies on milk fat and its influence on diseases. In some US studies that revealed negative effects for milk, test subjects with high milk fat consumption were more likely to be smokers and indifferent to exercise.

In contrast, in the European EPIC study with 35,000 participants, for example, the fat markers for milk in the blood are associated with a lower risk of diabetes as well as with a higher glucose tolerance and less liver fat. In addition, most studies show that consuming low-fat milk leads to weight gain in children, adolescents and adults, while whole milk has no effect on the slim figure. Whole milk also lowers the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

So the advice to eat low-fat dairy products may even have fueled the obesity and diabetes epidemic of recent years. "People probably compensate for the lower calorie intake by eating more, or they eat sugary snacks instead," wrote David Ludwig, a nutritionist at Harvard University, in a comment in the journal "JAMA Pediatrics" three years ago. Like Ton Baars, he is clearly in favor of consuming whole milk.

Industrial trans fats remain dangerous

In addition, around four percent trans fatty acids are formed in the cow rumen, such as vaccenic acid, which also ends up in milk. These also seem to be healthy because they are converted into conjugated linoleic acids in the body. This should not be confused with the industrial trans fatty acids that are clearly harmful to health, such as those found in french fries, croissants, peanut flips or donuts. Both the US guideline and the DGE recommendations advise avoiding these fats as much as possible. A limit of one percent of the daily calories consumed should not be exceeded. According to the DGE fat guideline, industrial trans fats have been shown to increase cholesterol and blood fat levels and the risk of developing heart disease. Recently, researchers calculated that a ban on industrial trans fats would save 7,000 people from heart disease and save around 3,000 lives in England alone.