Is dairy good or bad for you?

Decades ago, there were reams of adverts instructing us to drink our milk so we don’t break our bones. But in the decades since, public opinion toward dairy is very different, and the scientific community has largely debunked these ideas. 

Many of the health-conscious among us choose to avoid it altogether. Our reasons range from a belief that dairy leads to inflammation, to acne, or even to an increased risk of heart attack due to high levels of saturated fat.  

But have we fallen into the same trap we often do, bouncing from one extreme to another? Could cutting out dairy mean we miss out on vital nutrients? Or could it hold the secret to a healthy gut microbiome?

Today, Jonathan is joined by ZOE regulars and renowned experts, Dr. Sarah Berry and Prof. Tim Spector.

In this episode, you’ll not only find out whether you should eat dairy or cut it out, but you’ll also hear two leading nutritional scientists try to reach an agreement on how to translate the latest research into actionable advice. And hopefully, they’ll still remain friends afterward. 

If you want to uncover the right foods for your body, head to, and get 10% off your personalized nutrition program.

Follow ZOE on Instagram.

Episode transcripts are available here.

Is there a nutrition topic you’d like us to cover? Email us at and we’ll do our best to cover it.


[00:00:00] Jonathan: Welcome to ZOE Science and Nutrition, where world-leading scientists explain how their research can improve your health.

Sarah and Tim, Thank you for joining me today.

[00:00:12] Sarah: Pleasure.

[00:00:13] Tim: Great to be here

[00:00:14] Jonathan: why don't we start, as always, with a quick fire round of questions and you know the rules, a yes, a no, or a short one sentence answer if necessary. Sarah, starting with you. Lots of people say that dairy causes inflammation in the body for most people.

Is this true?

[00:00:32] Sarah: No.

[00:00:34] Jonathan: All right. People are paying attention already, Tim. Should people drink milk during menopause to protect their bones?

[00:00:41] Tim: Probably not.

[00:00:43] Jonathan: Very interesting. We'll definitely come back to that. Sarah, if I have high cholesterol, should I give up dairy? No, Tim, the current US government advice on milk is to switch to low fat or fat-free milk. Is this good advice?

[00:01:01] Tim: No. Rubbish.

[00:01:03] Jonathan: Amazing. So that's, I think really surprising that fine, we're gonna come back and talk about it in lots of detail, but a actually, maybe if each of you can answer one final question. What's the biggest myth or misconception about dairy foods that you often hear?

[00:01:17] Tim: Think they are high in fat, therefore they're bad for you. And therefore, and they also are linked to many allergies, and this isn't true, I think. The fat side of it is not true and the allergy thing is over exaggerated.

[00:01:35] Jonathan: And sarah, what about you?

[00:01:37] Sarah: I would say there's loads of myths. The probably biggest myth that frustrates me is that dairy is high in saturated fat and therefore increases your risk of heart disease and it doesn't.

[00:01:49] Jonathan: Well listen and find out. Amazing. All right. I'm not telling you the answer now, Jonathan. That's, that's brilliant. So the listeners are gonna have to stick with us. Now some of you may know that dairy is actually a topic that's very personal to me. This came up on one of our previous podcasts, so I gave up dairy completely for about 20 years having been told I was lactose intolerant.

And it was really only through Zoe from having lots of these brilliant conversations with both of you and with a lot of other scientists that I basically have radically changed my view about dairy. And of course, more broadly what I eat. So I think all the listeners are in for a treat, and I think this is gonna be a condensed version of sort of what I've learned over the last few years.

So are we ready to go?

[00:02:32] Sarah: Yeah. I didn't know that you'd given up dairy. Learn something new. Every podcast.

[00:02:35] Jonathan: I'm glad that I keep entertaining you, Sarah.

[00:02:37] Tim: I gave it up for about 10 years.

[00:02:39] Sarah: So Did you? Why?

[00:02:40] Tim: Because my acupuncturist and my mother's acupuncturist said it was causing me allergies and sinusitis.

[00:02:46] Jonathan: And actually it's a brilliant introduction because the most common question we had from the Zoe community on social media asking, questions for this podcast was about dairy and whether it causes inflammation. And it sounds a little bit like your lungs, acupuncturist, so. What is the answer?

[00:03:04] Tim: Well, there's no evidence that overall dairy.

Is related to inflammation. I think a lot of these studies came from allergies to some of the proteins in milk that can occur at different stages of life, and also the general lactose intolerance that most of the world's population have after the age of three. So we sort of know that milk is generally quite hard to digest as, as after the age of three when we don't have those

enzymes anymore helping us. And so we evolved these e enzymes, these lactase enzymes in evolution, certain groups as Northern Europeans, a group in the Middle East and some East Africans all in individually so that we could harness cattle, and that, that helped our survival. So in a way, We've known it is difficult.

It needs a bit of a shift in our genes to be able to do that. And I think that's given milk, it's, it's particularly milk, it's bad reputation. And it does mean that large proportion of the world can't digest, can't drink a pint of milk without feeling sick or nauseous because there's just, they can't.

Break down those proteins and they can't digest it properly. So we've got that as the base.

[00:04:28] Jonathan: And is that the same as inflammation? Which is what I think a lot of people are sort of putting these two together.

[00:04:33] Tim: Well, if you can't break it down, it will stress the body and cause some inflammation. You'll feel sick, but in general, you're not gonna have that long term.

And so I think there's no evidence though, that if you can support. Drinking something like milk regularly, it has any effect on inflammation because of a, a small number of people that do have dairy allergies or dairy problems, and we've over generalized it, in my opinion.

[00:05:02] Sarah: Yeah, I'd agree. I think it's one of the big myths.

That's out there about dairy because a very small proportion of people do have a true allergy to dairy. But actually it's tiny, like Tim said, in in adulthood. And if you actually look at the evidence, we know when you look at population studies that people that have a higher amount of dairy, whether it be low fat or full fat dairy, actually have lowest.

Circulating inflammatory measures. So in..

[00:05:29] Jonathan: So you're saying that actually when you look at it on like large numbers of people and you look at who has dairy, they actually have, you can measure it in their bloods and they have less inflammation.

[00:05:38] Sarah: Yeah. And what's great about dairy is there's a particular type of fat in it that's very unique to dairy.

And we can measure this in people's. Blood cells so we can use it as a marker to say whether they truly do have more dairy or they don't. So rather than just relying on food frequency questionnaires or people saying, yeah, I eat a lot, we can actually objectively measure it. And you see that people have a higher circulating measure.

Of this marker. So we know that they have more dairy, they have lower blood levels of a lot of inflammatory measures. And actually where it gets really interesting is there's actually quite a lot of randomized controlled trials that have also looked at, people that are randomly allocated to have a high dairy diet or a diet high in other foods.

And when people are allocated to have a high dairy diet. Generally, they actually reduce the levels of inflammation in their blood.

[00:06:32] Jonathan: That's amazing. So this part, which is I think a really common view. Is wildly out of line with the latest science.

[00:06:40] Sarah: The the, the thing to caution this with is that dairy as a food is really complex and so many studies look at dairy as an overall group, but dairy differs according to whether it's fermented or non fermented, whether it's hard or liquid, i e milk or cheese, whether it's high fat or low fat.

And even within those categories, so let's say cheese for example, mostly it's fermented. Mostly it, it tends to be hard and mostly it's high fat. Even within that category, there's thousands of different cheeses, so it is quite difficult sometimes drawing really broad conclusions. But overall, there's been more than 50 randomized control trials looking at the effect of dairy on inflammation.

And the sum of the evidence, not in all of them, but in the majority of them, will show that dairy actually has an anti-inflammatory effect rather than pro-inflammatory. Even that, that even surprises me based on some of the fatty acids and stuff that are in dairy.

[00:07:37] Jonathan: That's amazing. Well, I think we are gonna try and work through a bit of that complexity, because that's part of being my own journey with both of you.

Just before we do that, Though I think that it's not just, you know, me going to like these fancy coffee shops and seeing milk usage, decline. I think Sarah, there's been sort of a broader shift in terms of, dairy over the last few decades. Is that right?

[00:08:02] Sarah: So we've seen huge change in the types of dairy.

That people are eating. So we've seen a massive reduction in full fat milk consumption, a massive increase in skimmed or semi-skimmed, um milk consumption,

[00:08:15] Jonathan: which is basically consumption low fat milk for people use different terminology.

[00:08:18] Sarah: We've seen a huge increase in yogurt. So

[00:08:21] Tim: the 1970s is when the milk was at its peak and it's, it's been dropping since then and, In virtually every country in the west, but actually increasing in Asian countries.

So it's increasing in China. Interesting. So we are seeing these differential effects across the world, but in general, less milk is being drunk in in US and, and UK and Europe than much less than, than in past decades.

[00:08:47] Sarah: And that's for a number of reasons. Breakfast cereal consumption's decreased a lot as well since seventies, eighties. but also with the growing awareness of saturated fat being linked to heart disease and, and dairy being high in saturated fat. There therefore then people have been thinking, oh, well I need to go to the low fat variety, or I need to cut dairy down.

[00:09:08] Jonathan: There was definitely no full fat milk. You know, in my house growing up with my, my mother worrying about my father's high cholesterol, that was definitely one of the things.

And I know she was like, I hate, don't really like this skim stuff, but that's what we should be drinking in order to keep him alive. Right? So that's a pretty big deal actually. I think that's a. A brilliant transition, Tim, to maybe talk about what the evidence is about dairy being either good for our health or or bad for our health.

You know, today in 2023,

[00:09:38] Tim: what we've heard milk is not a, is not pro-inflammatory, and it may be anti-inflammatory, but the latest research shows that milk doesn't actually protect you against osteoporotic fractures, which was

[00:09:50] Jonathan: what neuro osteoporotic fractures, other than hard to say.

[00:09:53] Tim: Bone fragility fractures or having a hip, you know, hip fracture, wrist fracture, fracture.

These are things

[00:10:00] Jonathan: that tend to become more common as you get older older, I think about them.

[00:10:02] Tim: Brittle bone disease is what is commonly known as, and it's something that affects about one in three women. So it's incredibly common. Yes. So you start with a wrist fracture in your sixties, then you might get a loss of height due to vertible fracture then in your eighties.

, lot of, highly susceptible to hip fractures, which can really end up changing your life. So really important, big epidemic of this. We were telling everyone 10 years ago to drink more milk, particularly around the menopause. This would protect you,

[00:10:35] Jonathan: which is what I thought you were supposed to do.

[00:10:37] Tim: Yes. Well, that was up to very recently the latest advice. But all the actual evidence now suggests that milk drinkers have no Protection against hip fracture compared to non milk drinkers. And it sort of makes sense cuz the biggest milk drinkers in the world are the Dutch and the Scandinavians, and they have the highest fracture rates in the world.

[00:10:56] Jonathan: So all of that calciums in your milk and it's gonna protect you. This is, it's to be nonsense.

[00:11:02] Tim: Nonsense. Yes. I that's. That's what the science is now telling us. And you know, there's many other sources of calcium. We always think of milk as the only source of calcium, but actually there's so much in green leafy vegetables in, in kale, in broccoli, in nuts, in almonds all kinds of different areas where we can get much more easy access to, to this calcium.

And so I don't think we should be really pushing milk as much as we we have been.

[00:11:29] Jonathan: And is that true for all? Old dairies. So we talked about milk.

[00:11:32] Sarah: Yeah, I think, I think Jonathan, it's important to pick up on the, osteoporosis question here regarding milk. That whether all dairy should be classified as not being, Helpful in that situation.

So there's studies that have taken place in care homes, for example, where they will take, you know, a number of different care homes and some care homes will have fortified the diet or, sorry, added to the diet dairy. Now this isn't just milk though. This is like adding yogurt, cheese and other dairy and then other care homes that haven't.

So it's part of a clinical trial. The care homes that add dairy, To the diets of the people that are living there. They do have a reduction in lots of different unfavorable health outcomes, including fractures. Overall, what we know from population studies is people that consume more dairy have lower rates of type two diabetes.

That's really consistent, the evidence for that. We also know populations that have higher intakes of dairy have lower rates of cardiovascular disease. It's less consistent, but the majority of the data would support that. And we are starting to understand mechanistically why that is. We also know that people that have higher intakes of dairy tend to have better weight

overall, and we also know that dairy may be protective against some cancers. So there's really consistent evidence that people have higher intakes of dairy, have lower risk of colon cancer, for example. But then we need to look at the different types of dairy to see Which types are more protective than other types.

And I think the best way we as a nutritionist would separate them out is typically the fermented and non fermented. And then once we look at the fermented, then we'd separate them out according to whether they're like liquid or hard. So when we talk about fermented, we mean cheese, we mean yogurt. When we're talking about the non fermented, we mean milk and we mean butter.

[00:13:32] Jonathan: So to make sure I've got that, you're saying like overall, actually when you look back at. People living their entire lives and what they ate. Then actually the people who are eating dairy have tended to look healthier. But the within that, it's like there's these mix of different things. And so some of those dairy might be really quite good for you.

Some of those dairy might not be very good for you, and you mix it all together. And on average, that might be better than someone who's not eating. Dairy, and I guess the risk always is, you know, are they drinking Coca-Cola as an alternative? You know, what, what are the, the alternative choices? You know, as, as you've explained to me many times, is that the picture?

So it's quite complex compared to, to many of these things where maybe it, it's just sort of clear that if you eat, you know, a whole grain, it's better than a highly refined grain.

[00:14:17] Sarah: Yeah. So dairy's a huge food group, and so whilst we can say, broadly speaking, if you consume more dairy, you tend to. Be healthier.

We need to look at the, all of the different components of the food groups as well. There's also quite a lot of clinical trial data that we can draw on as well to look at whether, dairy itself is what's improving health or whether it's all the other factors that normally complicate, how we understand a food impacts our health.

So is it that people that have, You know, higher overall diet quality tend to consume more dairy, or is it the dairy itself? Unless, and what's the answer? So my interpretation of the evidence is that for cheese and for yogurt, it's the dairy itself that's conferring a favorable impact. And we're starting to understand why this is as well.

[00:15:08] Tim: The data, as Sarah is saying, on, cheeses and yogurts is actually stronger than for milk.

And, I don't think there's comprehensive data about it being fracture protective. But it's certainly it's suggested that way. Certainly, and I, I think all the fermented dairies have all these extra advantage of the probiotic microbes in there cuz they we're talking about fermented dairies.

These contain probiotic microorganisms that we know now from clinical trials are good for the immune system. They, you know, have an effect within a few weeks. They do hang around in our, in our gut to energize the other microbes. They have lots of effects. We still don't understand our body and I think we sh should still be pushing those and all the evidence about yogurt and cheese is much more positive than for milk alone.

[00:15:59] Jonathan: That's amazing. Before we dig into the individual things, the number two question that we had from literally like about a thousand people was about full fat versus lower fat dairy. And I guess this can apply right across whether it's milk or if it's cheese.

 And lots and lots of people saying, well the government advice makes really clear that I am supposed to swap my full fat milk for low fat milk or my full fat cheese for low fat cheese. And we did our research in both the UK government and the US government are currently saying that. I know that you

don't always agree with whatever the existing advice, which we know goes through a process that means sometimes it's a bit out of date. What's your personal views on this?

[00:16:40] Tim: Well, I think there's no evidence at all that full fat milk is more harmful compared to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, and there's no evidence for any advantage of low fat milks and lots of theoretical reasons why there might be less good for you by skimming off the fat cause you're losing a lot of the nutrients.

[00:16:59] Sarah: Okay, so the reason that the government have put out these low fat guidelines, not just in the UK and the us, it's actually, if you look at nearly all guidelines across many different countries, they recommend you to have

the low fat versions of dairy. One is because in most instances, all of the healthy nutrients are maintained. So if you have skin milk versus full fat milk, you still retain the calcium, the iodine, the potassium and many of the other really healthy nutrients. But what you also do is by going to low fat milk, is you reduce your saturated fat content and We've always believed in the evidence would support the increasing saturated fat in intake, increases your cholesterol, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, and this is why the government have recommended us to have low fat to cut down the saturated fat intake.

And what do you believe? But what I believe is that whilst, it's very clear that low fat dairy has a favorable impact on health, it's also clear that full fat dairy has some favorable impact on health, but just not quite as favorable as low fat dairy.

[00:18:05] Tim: My big problem with this is that this was a theoretical argument and you made the good theoretical case for it, but, There's been no, all the clinical trials have failed to show any real difference between these two arms and by saying you have to take out the fat by spinning it basically in a centrifuge to get the fat globules off.

You take out lots of stuff you may not know about cuz the milk is incredibly complex.

[00:18:33] Jonathan: Just to keep it really simple, you know, my dad's listening to this right now, and he'd like, you know, he would be drinking full fat milk, but the Medical advice he's been given is he should swap out the full fat milk for skimmed milk because he's got high cholesterol.

Like how important is that advice for him to follow, do you think, Sarah?

[00:18:56] Sarah: So I think based on evidence from observational studies, we know that it's very clear that people that consume more full or low fat dairy have reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and typically lower cholesterol. And there's also randomized control trials have looked at this.

So there's one quite well known randomized control trial where people were allocated to either follow. No dairy diet or for 12 weeks, follow a low fat dairy diet and for 12 weeks follow a high fat dairy diet. And what they did is they particularly focused on cholesterol and the different types of cholesterol.

And what they found interestingly is those following either. The no dairy, the low dairy, low fat dairy, or the full fat dairy had absolutely no difference in blood cholesterol levels, and this is not what you'd expect based on the really high saturated fat content of dairy, which is why dairy is so special, because we know that there's something more interesting and complicated going on with the food matrix.

So I would say to someone, if your doctor says, no, you have to go to low fat or you have to avoid dairy, I would say that. It's perfectly healthy and actually beneficial potentially to include cheese and to include yogurt. I wouldn't consume butter, and we can come onto that and I think that. I don't see the harm in having low, skimmed milk or semis, skim milk versus whole milk.

[00:20:22] Jonathan: I'd love to talk about a few of the fermented dairy because I think that lots of people will believe that these are foods they shouldn't eat. This is where they're coming from. And I'd like to share what the latest data shows. So could we start with yogurt? How healthy is this? Should we be eating it?

[00:20:41] Sarah: So I think yogurt and cheese are a fantastic part of our diet. They're packed full of great nutrients, including calcium, iodine, potassium, , fantastic types of proteins. So it's a complete protein. So it provides all of the proteins that our body can't make. And I think that I'm fortunate and actually.

A fortunate part of as well is cheese and yogurt is there seems to be something really special about the matrix of the food structure. That means that despite having a high saturated fat content, they actually don't increase our cholesterol.

[00:21:17] Jonathan: So that sounds a bit magic cause we just we're talking about milk and sort of saying on balance, like, it's not terrible for you, but it's not a health food either.

So how comes I've taken the milk, I basically left it sitting out there for a long time and now magically you're telling me it's better for me.

[00:21:32] Sarah: So I think Tim can talk about lots of the attributes, but I think what's quite interesting is if we do studies where we compare butter versus cheese, despite having the same amount of saturated fat, cheese does not raise our cholesterol.

If anything, cheese in, certainly in comparison to butter, it lowers. Our cholesterol at low bad cholesterol. That's amazing. So despite having the same fats, and what this highlights is that we have to really be careful when we are looking at either back of pack labeling of taking that really reductionist view of thinking just of the nutrients.

We have to think of the food and dairy is an example that we as nutritional scientists always uses A great example of the complexity of food and how, looking at just a simple list of five or six nutrients. Tells you really very little about the health effects.

[00:22:18] Jonathan: So what's happened? How has the milk gone

not very good for you or the butter, I guess you're saying not very good for you to something...

[00:22:25] Tim: well, it's been transformed by microbes, and this is the whole. Idea of fermentation, which really means the transformation of food into something that is tastes different, has a different texture, and is also has a different effect on your body.

And so you're getting in yogurt, classically, three or four different species of microbe that when you're eating yogurt, go into our into our guts and they, as they're passing through, some of 'em get killed off in the stomach, but most of them, they're wrapped in the fats, so their protective shell of, of the yogurt and or the cheese, they get to our lower colon and they will, will then.

Stimulate our microbes there to produce healthy other metabolites and chemicals. And I think this is probably where we are getting these other bonus from. This health bonus is from these live microbes. And that's why processed cheeses, craft slices that are just dead or fake, frozen pizza mozzarella don't have those same benefits.

So I think we are still ingesting a lot of microbes when we have reasonable cheeses and yogurts that you find on the market because they go moldy. And if they go moldy, you know that they, they've changed. It's the ones that don't never go moldy, you worry about. And so that we, we don't totally know whether it's the transformation of.

The food by the microbes that's switched it so that the fats seem to have a beneficial effect or it's the microbes themselves having other effects on our resident microbes to produce other chemicals. In response, I think we're still. Trying to understand exactly what's going on. There hasn't been nearly enough research on fermented foods up to this moment.

You know, we didn't even used to record how much fermented foods people ate in the past, just like we didn't record how much the food was ultra processed or not. So this is very new and we're gonna have to go back to a lot of these surveys to really work it out.

[00:24:22] Sarah: What's quite interesting is the studies that have looked at inflammation, see that there's a more potent anti-inflammatory.

Effective dairy, if it's fermented dairy versus if it's unfermented. So whilst the totality of the evidence will show all dairy seems to be either neutral or anti-inflammatory. The fermented dairy definitely,

[00:24:44] Jonathan: which is the cheese and the yogurt.

[00:24:45] Sarah: Yes.

[00:24:45] Jonathan: One of the key takeaways I guess for me is, That cheese is still saturated fat, right?

That yogurt is still saturated fat, and I've definitely been brought up to believe saturated fat is the worst thing that you can have, right? It's like, go straight to hospital and have a heart attack. Don't stop. Right? That's sort of how we've all been been taught over the last, 50 years, and I. I think what you're saying is it's not that simple.

I know that you're not very keen on the saturated fats in meats, for example, but that, when it goes through this magic process of fermentation, somehow this yogurt and this cheese is still saturated fat, but actually on balance, it's even healthy for you. Is that right?

[00:25:28] Sarah: Yeah. I think the simplest thing to, the way to summarize this is try and stop looking at nutrients.

Try to stop being over focused on nutrients and think about the food and dairy is a great example. Despite what you would read on the backer pack labeling, if you were to look just at the nutrients, you'd think, oh my gosh, it's full of saturated fat. You know, I can't possibly eat this. Actually, no.

When you eat it as a food, the way it behaves in your body is very different, and the way it impacts your health is very different than what would be predicted based on the nutrients. So we often talk about food as being more than the sum of its nutrients because of this structure, because of this matrix and dairy as a fantastic example.

[00:26:08] Jonathan: Could we have some actionable advice? Let's say you're going to the, to the grocery store, to the supermarket. You're trying to decide what to eat. Can you share some tips?

[00:26:17] Tim: Small portions, little and often is what you want with fermented dairy and. We haven't really discussed it, but, there's something called kefir, which is fermented milk, which has about seven to 10 times the amount of microbes that yogurt does have.

And it's like a super yogurt, it's thinner, and if you're after something for its health benefits, then switching from yogurt to kefir is really good, and you can make it yourself very cheaply. Small portions, small shots, just having them, you know, handy. We've noticed you have to have them at least every, every day or two.

You can't just have a giant dairy binge once a week. Because it won't have that effect on the gut. It won't be present all the time to have those benefits on your gut.

[00:27:02] Jonathan: So you have it quite regularly.

[00:27:03] Tim: So small amounts regularly is what we're after. And again You know, try and move to kefir as well as these cheeses.

Pick if you can, artisanal cheeses, avoid highly processed cheeses, which are dead as you, you said. Most of the cheese, a third of the cheese in pizza, for example, is fake analog cheese. It's made in factories. It's very little to do with dairy. And, so the. Poor quality stuff really is probably very bad for you.

So you need to realize you want to pay a bit more for something that's good and eat less of it. I think that's the, that's the key. If you can get raw milk cheeses and increasingly, certainly in the UK and some areas, some states in the US like California, you can get raw milk cheeses. Go for them because they do have a greater variety of microbes particularly on, on the rinds, et cetera.

 And go and enjoy. But pick the stuff that you enjoy. And try and get diversity of your cheese. Cuz the more diverse your cheese is, the more diverse the microbes you're gonna be ingesting.

[00:28:04] Sarah: And Tim, what about for people that are on a budget that enjoy cheese, that I know you've said, you know, pay perhaps pick the higher quality and have less of it, but they don't necessarily want to reduce the volume.

What cheeses are there in common supermarkets, retailers that are affordable? That will still be beneficial. What about stand cheddar?

[00:28:28] Tim: For example, Supermarket cheddar will still have at least three or four microbes in it. And because it's dry, it will last a long time before it goes moldy.

They're perfectly fine. You don't have to be spending huge amounts of money on exotic cheese

[00:28:43] Jonathan: and is a soft cheese any better than a hard cheese, whether it's like a, a brie or a. Buffalo mozzarella or whatever, or does it

[00:28:52] Tim: Not really. No. That's not the distinction. You get just as many microbes on a dry cheese, a dry acidic cheese as you do on, on, on some of these wet ones.

 We even tested, Philadelphia.

[00:29:03] Sarah: Oh, my kids love Philadelphia,

[00:29:04] Tim: which looks ultra process. But when we tested it genetically, we still found that it had at least three microbes we could detect on it. So as long as something goes moldy,

[00:29:15] Sarah: Yeah, it does. When they leave it out too long,

[00:29:17] Tim: if you leave it for a couple of weeks out, it does go blue.

[00:29:20] Sarah: My son never has it back.

[00:29:21] Tim: That's a test test. That's the general test. Whereas there are some fake cheeses that never go moldy and you

need to avoid that.

[00:29:27] Sarah: What about mozzarella? Again, standard supermarket mozzarella.

[00:29:32] Tim: I haven't tested mozzarella to know exactly what's inside it, but that will have microbes on it and is perfectly healthy.

Feta cheese is perfectly healthy, has microbes in it. But ricotta for example, doesn't, and most cottage cheeses don't either. They and they, they, they've been killed off pasteurized. They, they, they're not part of the process. So the, there is subtle differences between some of these cheeses, but vast majority of, of decent cheese is fine to have and.

In terms of yogurts, you know, as we've discussed before, I mean, it's going for the, Full fat, unadulterated. So you know, it's not processed if it's full fat. I mean, that's the other really important reason why I really say to people go for full fat is, you know, it hasn't been tampered with. And you go for ones without vanilla, you go ones without additives.

It's got no fruit and you can add stuff yourself so you know what, what's in it. That's the. Basic rule, all those full fat yogurts will be fine. Make sure there's no artificial sweeteners and they haven't done anything, anything to it on the on the back of the pack and you'll be fine. Brilliant.

[00:30:42] Jonathan: There were so many things we didn't get onto, so I think we're definitely going to have to come back.

So butter, for example, we missed completely, which is a whole podcast on its own. Lemme do a quick summary and I think the key point here is that all of this dairy is full of saturated fat. We sort of brought up to believe this was terrible for you, but actually this really isn't what the science says.

Anymore that we really need to distinguish the type of dairy we're talking about. But interestingly, even milk isn't bad for you. And this idea that it creates all this inflammation isn't true. Once you get to sort of cheese and yogurts, actually I think Sarah and Tim, you're both saying, look, this, all the evidence is, this is actually healthy for us.

Seems like this magic of fermentation. These bacteria is really involved in this. And part of it may be that there's live bacteria still in that part of it. Listening to Sarah is probably how it's changed the structure, what you always like to call the matrix of this, this food. And then lastly, we had this discussion about full fat versus low fat versions.

I think that. There's two parts of this. First, I think there's this very strong agreement that most of the foods that you actually see as low fat tend to be worse for you because they've had to sort of mess with them in order to make them still taste good. So that's always something to be nervous of.

But interestingly, even if you just look at sort of full fat milk versus low fat milk or full fat cheese versus low fat cheese. There isn't this evidence that suggests that by switching to, low fat, they're suddenly much healthier for you and you're gonna live longer and you're gonna like lose lots of, lots of weight, actually.

Interesting. It seems like it's sort of very, balanced and I think that speaks as always as sort of the complexity of what's going on here.

[00:32:23] Sarah: I agree with you on all of that Great synopsis, Jonathan.

[00:32:26] Tim: Good job In a difficult area.

[00:32:28] Jonathan: Amazing. Thank you very much, both of you and I look forward to the follow up on butter.

[00:32:34] Sarah: So do I

[00:32:35] Tim: butter or margarine? That's the big question next. Yeah, all

[00:32:39] Jonathan: thank you everybody. Thank you Sarah and Tim for joining me on Zoe Science and Nutrition today. If you want to understand how to support your body with the best foods for you, including the healthiest dairy options for your body, Then you may want to try Zoe's personalized nutrition program to improve your health.

You can get 10% off by going to As always, I'm your host, Jonathan Wolf. ZOE Science and Nutrition is produced by Yella Hewings-Martin, Richard Willan, and Alex Jones here at ZOE. See you next time.