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t is well recognised that obesity, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis are highly prevalent in our society. Low-fat dairy products provide a means of decreasing the amount of saturated fat in our diet without compromising our intake of the important nutrients contained in dairy, especially calcium. Even if you are not at risk of obesity and kilojoules are not an issue for you, the fact that the fats contained in full-cream dairy products are saturated fats (as well as trans fats, albeit in smaller quantities) is a problem, since these forms of fat increase your risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol. We all need fat in our diet, but should minimise our intake of saturated and trans fats in favour of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthier fats are contained in canola, olive, peanut, sunflower, corn and soy oils, and margarines, avocado, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood. Cutting back on saturated and trans fats, and replacing them with mono- or polyunsaturated fats, can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, omega-3 fats, the polyunsaturated fat found in canola and soy oils, canola-based margarines and fish (particularly oily fish), can improve blood vessel elasticity; thin the blood, making it less likely to clot; reduce inflammation; support the immune system; reduce blood pressure and even help prevent and manage depression, as well as contribute to the development of the foetal brain (for pregnant women). Given that three to four serves of dairy are generally recommended daily to ensure adequate calcium intake, using low-fat dairy products can constitute a considerable decrease in saturated fat intake. But be aware of the sugar content of any low-fat dairy products you consume, especially yoghurts, ice-creams and dairy desserts, since if the sugar content is high, this may be detrimental to your teeth and your weight-loss efforts. ■ Dr Cindy Pan has had over 10 years of clinical practice experience. Her books include Pandora’s Box: Lifting The Lid On Life’s Little Nasties (HarperCollins) and Playing Hard To Get (HarperCollins). She appears on television, lectures and speaks about all aspects of health, relationships and wellbeing.



f you have health concerns and you need to address your saturated fat intake, then low-fat dairy is an important consideration. For the average person, it is more important to modify dairy consumption rather than reducing the fat component. Full-fat milk contains about three per cent fat, five per cent carbohydrate and three per cent protein. Reduced-fat milk, on average, contains two per cent fat, five per cent carbohydrate

and three per cent protein; while low-fat milk typically contains one per cent fat, five per cent carbohydrate and three per cent protein. As the fat component reduces, the carbohydrate portion increases, making the low-fat product produce a higher glycaemic index, which affects sugar levels and, ultimately, your weight. You probably can’t eat more than a few tablespoons of full-fat yoghurt due to the richness, whereas low-fat yoghurt is lighter

and fluffier, so you can end up eating more of it, giving yourself a stomach ache because you’ve flooded your digestive system with lactose – often more than your body can break down. Reducing your dairy intake overall is a much better strategy. Honestly reflect on how much you consume and you’ll realise it’s probably an issue of quantity more than anything else.

■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consultant and has her own clinical practice in Sydney, NSW. She specialises in fertility, reproductive and psychological health. For more information visit

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Low fat dairy products  
Low fat dairy products  

THE NATUROPATH LEAH HECHTMAN THE DOCTOR DR CINDY PAN Keeping You Healthy Help your child get essential vitamins and minerals they need, with...