I grew up with the idea that less fat is better for our health; therefore, reduced-fat milk is a better option than whole milk, right? Not so says David Ludwig, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The USDA guidelines recommend: “Consume three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.” Dr. Ludwig challenges that recommendation stating that lower fat milk doesn’t save us many calories (or carbs) and that the fat is needed to help us feel full longer.

In fact, he says we may not even need to drink milk in order to get our daily dose of calcium. “We can satisfy all our calcium and other nutrient requirements from a high-quality diet, including green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and perhaps fish,” Ludwig says.

It seems as if we’re living in a time when the ideas of what’s best for us nutritionally are being questioned, even by the medical profession. Or maybe I’m just paying more attention now due to my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Regardless, this debate, and others, can leave me feeling confused.

Whole milk and reduced-fat milk have roughly the same amount of sugars, which is an important thing people with diabetes should consider when choosing what foods to eat. If we are consuming more whole foods, like the ones Ludwig listed above, we may not need to drink so much milk. And, if we do drink milk, we might be better off reaching for the higher-fat options.