A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has suggested that individuals who reach for the skim milk in an attempt to eat healthy may actually be foregoing an element that can help prevent disease.
Butterfat — found in milk, cheese, yogurt and butter — contains the compound trans-palmitoleic acid, which could play a big factor in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers followed 3,736 participants over a 20-year period and discovered that individuals who consumed higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had healthier blood cholesterol levels, less inflammation and were better able to regulate insulin. Those who consumed the compound the most, compared to those who consumed the least, had a 60 percent lower risk of developing diabetes.
The study backs up the claim made by health experts that the processed fats found in margarine are a poor substitute for the real thing. While the partially hydrogenated vegetable fats in butter alternatives have been linked to heart disease, the naturally-occurring trans fat found in dairy and meat has not been shown to have detrimental health effects.
Lead researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH, speculated that trans-palmitoleic acid mimics fatty acids naturally found in the body.