This is problematic because Omega-6’s are inflammatory—their function in our bodies is, in part, to promote rigidity in the cell walls, aid in clotting, and create an inflammation response. These are important functions but can be harmful in excess. Omega-6s, tellingly, are also involved with fat storage.
Omega-3s on the other hand, are involved with cell permeability, metabolizing glucose (sugar) and calming inflammation. Researchers are finding more and more that inflammation is at the root of many of our modern chronic diseases, which makes the ratio between omega-6s and omega-3s so critically important.
Based on the study, Benbrook recommends that, “Consumers should seek out foods with a healthier balance of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids, including full-fat dairy products, but also prevent increasing caloric intakes by avoiding foods with high levels of industrial trans fats and omega-6s.”
Importantly, it’s organic full fat dairy products that contain the most nutritional benefit since organically produced milk is often (but not always) pasture-based.
But not everyone is convinced that this means we should load up on dairy products. “I don’t think that this finding supports high dairy consumption,” Walter Willet, the chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, wrote to me in an e-mail. “There is much evidence that fats coming mainly from plant sources, which include both n-6 [Omega-6s] and n-3 [Omega-3s] fatty acids, will be better than a diet based primarily on dairy fat. The traditional Mediterranean diet provides an example of this; there is some dairy fat, but in low to modest amounts, and mostly yogurt and cheese.”
Dairy works well for some people and not for others—it’s highly individual. If you do incorporate dairy products in your diet, two things are clear: It should be full fat and organic for maximum nutritional benefit. Once again that old maxim holds true: Eat only real, whole foods.
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