Drinking low-fat milk, such as 1 percent or non-fat, can do more than just shorten our waistline. A recent study at Brigham Young University and published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that low-fat milk was "significantly" associated with less aging in adults.
In particular, the researchers found that adults who drink 1 percent are 4.5 years slower than those who drink 2 percent. "It's not a bad thing to drink milk," said Larry Tucker, a sports science lecturer at BYU and lead researcher on the project, in a press release. "You should only be more aware of what type of milk you drink."
Why does throwing creamy whole milk down instead of 1 percent turn your hair gray faster? It has to do with telomeres that are at the end of every chromosome – also known as the building blocks of life.[RELATED2]
Telomeres protect the chromosomes from decomposition and become shorter with age, which makes us more susceptible to aging effects.
There are other things that affect telomere length, such as diet, and high-fat milk appears to be one of the main culprits for shorter telomeres. Tucker and his team found that the telomeres were 69 base pairs shorter with each 1 percent increase in milk fat consumption, which was reflected in another four years of biological aging.
Most shockingly, people who drink whole milk have telomeres that are 145 base pairs shorter than fat-free milk drinkers, resulting in another eight years of biological aging.
It is somewhat surprising that people who do not drink milk at all had shorter telomeres than people who consumed fat-free milk or 1 percent.
The study's authors admit that there is very little room to question why this association was found. "High-fat milk users may have a less healthy lifestyle than low-fat milk users," they wrote. "Causes are possible and the results available justify additional studies in this area. However, the scope of this study does not allow any causal conclusions to be drawn."
The results, Tucker added, appear to support the nutritional guidelines for Americans that encourage adults to drink either fat-free or 1 percent milk when drinking dairy products.[RELATED1]