SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Supermarket shelves are teeming with non-fat, low-fat products beckoning health-conscious consumers. Now, a new study suggests its okay if a carton of whole-fat milk winds up in the shopping cart.

For decades, nutritionists have told us to avoid whole fat dairy products if we want to eat “right”. Now, new research suggests that full-fat dairy products may actually help in the fight against diabetes and weight gain.

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A study at Tufts University published in the April issue of Circulation made the surprising findings, challenging decades of advice to the contrary.

Researchers looked at 15 years worth of data for 3,333 adults and found those who had the highest levels of dairy fat in their blood had a 46% lower risk of developing diabetes. Their findings dovetail on another study in which Swedish researchers found men who consumed high-fat dairy products, like butter and cream, were less likely to become obese, and the case for full fat becomes even stronger.

Fresh dairy products (Thinkstock)

Fresh dairy products (Thinkstock)

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Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian led the Tufts study.

“I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products,” he told Time Magazine. “There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.”

Mozaffarian says people shouldn’t suddenly start consuming copious amounts of butter and cream. Still, his approach may perhaps lessen the stress health conscious shoppers experience in the dairy aisle.

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“In the absence of any evidence for the superior effects of low fat dairy, and some evidence that there may be better benefits of whole fat dairy products for diabetes, why are we recommending only low fat diary? We should be telling people to eat a variety of dairy and remove the recommendation about fat content.”