Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Health: The One Percent Milk Revolution?

Photonic Progress

I would like to say well done, Robert Wiseman Dairies! It is a free plug by me (though a year's supply of yoghurt wouldn't go amiss). 

Out local convenience store has begun stocking a few bottles of their 1% low fat milk. Having a close acquaintance with gall stones who needs a low fat diet, we realised how hard that is in practice to buy low fat food, or  least convenience food or while eating-out or while away from home. 'Diet' food generally is low calorie, but medium or high fat. Low calories are easy, low fat is hard.

Here is the UK-based terminology I use for fat content of milk:

Butterfat contentUK Terminology
5.5%Channel Island milk or breakfast milk [13]
3.5%Whole milk or full fat milk [13]
1.5 – 1.8%Semi-skimmed [14]
Less than 0.3%Skimmed [14]

I know it differs elsewhere: for example in America they use this:

Butterfat contentU.S. terminology
40%Manufacturers cream
36%Heavy whipping cream
30 – 36%Whipping cream or Light whipping cream
25%Medium cream
18 – 30%Light, coffee, or table cream
10.5 – 18%Half and half
4.00%Whole milk
about 2%2% or Reduced fat [9]
about 1%1% or Low fat [9]
0.0 – 0.5%Skim milk [9]

As well as avoiding biliary colic from gall-stones triggered by the fat content, low fat is of course protective from heart disease. 

According to the World Heart Federation, research makes it clear that abnormal blood lipid (fat) levels have a strong correlation with the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and coronary death. In turn, abnormal blood lipids are related to what you eat.  A diet high in saturated fats (e.g. cheese) and trans fats (often used in cakes, cookies and fast food) leads to high levels of cholesterol.

The lower fat the better (though we do need a very small amount). So we could drink skimmed milk but the absence of flavour doesn't suit a lot of people. A sensible compromise for many has been to consume semi-skimmed milk, which has about 1.8% fat, rather than 'whole milk (3.5-4% fat) but by switching to 1% fat we have will half the fat intake, more or less. And the amazing thing is that despite the lower fat 1% milk seems to taste creamier than semi-skimmed, and altogether it's nicer to drink.

The strange thing is that, until today, I only saw 1% fat milk in my local store, which is odd because it's owned by Tesco. Our Tesco supermarket didn't have any when I looked. Today I found our local Sainsburys has begun to stock a few bottles so boughtsome more. I can't speak for other large stores like Waitrose or ASDA.

I haven't seen any store actually promote 1% milk in the UK, let alone advertise it. I do hope it's not a case of a few stores buying a few bottles, putting it in the corner, waiting a few weeks and then dropping it. 'Thanks very much, Mr Supplier, but the customers don't want it!'

So it up to us consumers, Vive the Low Fat Milk revolution! 

Now drink up please.


Photonic Progress