• Dr Sally Norton


Any serial dieter will tell you to steer clear of the dairy cabinet. It’s full of saturated fat that will play havoc with heart and waistline. Opt instead for low-fat processed spreads, skimmed milks and fat-free cheeses. Big mistake.

Fat is not the villain we once thought it was. There is no doubt we have to watch our fat intake, and saturated fat does seem to be linked with heart disease – but I suspect that it is as much to do with the way that fat is packaged up as the fat itself.


Consider a bacon butty, with white bread, lashings of butter, loads of ketchup and salt and washed down with a cup of sugary tea. Then think of goats cheese, sat atop a pile of salad, wholegrains and avocado, and a large glass of fresh milk. Both full of saturated fat but one is chock full of additives, preservatives and sugar and the other full of vitamins and fibre.

What’s more, a recent review looked at the results of 29 studies into the link between dairy consumption, cardiovascular disease and deaths and found no increased risk when related to dairy consumption. In fact, there was possibly a very slightly lowered risk (2%) of cardiovascular disease and death from eating fermented dairy products such as cheese.

So, dairy isn’t necessarily bad for you and provides the added benefit of calcium which is good for bone-health.


In fact, the National Osteoporosis Society recently warned that steering clear of dairy could lead to an increase in osteoporosis (bone-thinning) in the future.

That’s not to say we should be overdoing it – recommendations are that we shouldn’t exceed 30g of saturated fat per day for the average man and 20g a woman.

So should we be wary of dairy? I say no. Have it in moderation and better the proper stuff than some over-processed version. Make sure you have it as part of an overall healthy diet – cheese on a pizza or whipped cream on a huge chocolate cake doesn’t count! And beware the baddies that can be added to it…..think sugary yoghurts, overly salty cheese…and try to choose the better alternatives.


And remember the other types of fat too, found in olive oil, nuts, avocados, oily fish and more, which provide a whole heap of health benefits as well.

Guo J, Astrup A, Lovegrove JA, et al. Milk and dairy consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. European Journal of Epidemiology. 2017