The Salmon Analogy: Unapologetically Full-Fat

Food For Thought Monday January 23, 2017

The Salmon Analogy: Unapologetically Full-Fat

By: Karen McDermott - Director of Digital and Social Media

One of the most popular inquiries we get from consumers is: “Why doesn’t Maple Hill Creamery make low-fat or non-fat dairy products?” When posed with this question, we like to answer with the “Salmon Analogy,” coined by our CEO Tim Joseph. Here’s his take:

“Wild salmon is rich in naturally-occurring heart-healthy Omega- 3 fats, in ratios similar to grass-fed milk. If it were possible to produce or create “low fat” or “skim” salmon, not only would it probably (definitely) taste bad, but more importantly “skim salmon” would have a large portion of the food value removed, as the majority of the benefits would be removed along with the fat. Would you eat “skim salmon”? The same applies to milk and dairy products.”

Maple Hill Creamery recipes begin with our own supply of 100% grass-fed milk. All of our products are made with organic, whole milk from cows that have only been fed milk and grass since birth. While conventional dietary advice has been to avoid saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease, several recent studies challenge this notion. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded, “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease.” Another review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that “current evidence does not clearly support” guidelines encouraging low consumption of saturated fat. As a company founded by farmers, we trust nature’s creation of an excellent whole food source. This goes for cows too – if they’re eating the food they were designed for, then the milk they create reflect this.

Deconstructing the nutrients in whole foods has never panned out as intended – think of the low-fat craze in the 80s and 90s resulting in an overload of simple carbohydrates and sugars that many blame for the explosion of diabetes and obesity. The process of removing fat from milk results in the loss of fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamins A and D. This process also creates the need to make up for the lack of palatability that the fat provides. In yogurt or dairy products, sugar is most commonly added to bridge this gap – sometimes enough to surpass the amount of sugar found in a cupcake!

Skim milk is the by-product of making cream, which, at the dawn of the industrialization of our food system was a useless product. Marketing skim milk as a healthy alternative – since it’s lower in saturated fat – has recently been called into question. New research has indicated that saturated fat, specifically in dairy may be actually be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that MESA study participants who had the highest consumption of  full fat dairy foods (cheese, whole milk and full-fat yogurt) had a 26% lower risk of heart disease compared to those eating less full-fat dairy foods.

If it seems pretty strange to eat something like skim salmon, that’s because it might just be – skim and low fat dairy products are made from milk that is essentially stripped of part of its nutritional value. Eat the whole food from the healthiest animals, reap all the benefits. Like we always say: Don’t fear the fat.