On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Dairy Fat, Sugar and Carbohydrate Specifics

DEAR DR. BLONZ: My wife asks me to use low-fat milk and cottage cheese, but I prefer whole-milk dairy products. I'm 71, in good health with stable weight. I drink about a half cup of whole milk daily and eat about a quarter cup of whole-fat cottage cheese every other day. I read about a study of adult women that indicated a benefit from whole-milk products. My belief is that the fat keeps me satiated and that I would be consuming more of the low-fat variety. And the full-fat tastes better. What are your thoughts? -- S.S., Oakland, California

DEAR S.S.: I have no issues with full-fat dairy. We need to enjoy what we eat, so feel free to exercise choice in deciding where the naturally occurring fats in your diet come from; variety is an important element. Fat is one player in what will (ideally) be an overall plant-based, whole-foods diet, an essential add-on being an active lifestyle. You state that you are in good health and have a stable weight, and this speaks well to your approach (assuming, of course, that your weight is in line for your age and height). Routine wellness checks help complete the picture, verifying that your blood values and other measures are in line. Research does not raise red flags here. One study in the February 2018 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of whole versus skim milk on blood lipids, insulin and glucose in healthy subjects. Using separate 3-week treatment periods, where each subject received both treatments (crossover design), the study found that the daily addition of 0.5 liters (16.9 ounces) of whole milk daily did not adversely affect any of the measures, and that full-fat resulted in an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good one) when compared with skim.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: My coconut yogurt does not show that it contains any added sugar, but on the nutrition facts label, it states there are 12 grams of carbohydrate composed of “Dietary fiber 6g” and “Sugars 6g” per serving. The ingredients only state coconut cream (no sugar in that), tapioca starch and probiotic cultures. I am trying to reduce my sugar intake and find this information confusing. Is this sugar natural occurring in yogurt, and not harmful? Thank you. -- S.M., Orinda, California

DEAR S.M.: The coconut and tapioca starch provide the carbohydrate in your yogurt. The 12 grams per serving are listed as being 6 grams of dietary fiber, plus 6 grams of sugars. Note that it shows sugars, with an “s,” which is a general term used to describe any of a number of non-starch, non-fiber carbohydrates in the yogurt. While sucrose, the granular crystals also known as table sugar, is indeed one of the “sugars,” this term does not mean that it is entirely sucrose. You can see all the carbs in the “sugars” category at b.link/pdf57. There is no indication of any added sugar/sucrose in this food, just those naturally found in coconut and tapioca. Also, my thoughts are that the 6 grams, which provides 24 calories, are not a significant amount in the scheme of things.

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