University of Reading

Are you ready? to shake milk

Are you ready? to shake milk

Adult milk consumption in the UK has dropped from about three litres per week in the 1970s to less than one litre. Consumers have to start regaining faith in milk

Our research

Cutting saturated fat in milk by changing a cow’s diet

Britain is losing its taste for milk over fears about fat, yet evidence shows dairy benefits our health.

By adding oilseed to a cow’s diet we’ve cut the amount of saturated fat in milk - without compromising the white stuff’s nutritional benefits.


  • Cardiovascular disease is the UK's single biggest killer, responsible for more than 88,000 deaths each year.
  • A key Government recommendation in tackling heart disease is to reduce the amount of saturated fat in our diet.
  • Whole milk is a source of saturated fat but consumption in the UK is falling
  • Milk and dairy are vital components of our diet, providing about a quarter of our daily protein needs and up to 60% of vital nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus.


  • People need dairy in their diet
  • We added oilseed variants to a cow’s diet and cut the amount of saturated fat in its milk by over a quarter.
  • Crucially it also increased both cis-monounsaturated fats and natural trans fats, both thought to have health benefits.
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  • We worked with Marks & Spencer to cut saturated fat in its Better for You Milk range, while raising the level of 'good' unsaturated fats. That's healthier milk, fresh from the cow.
  • This product has led to improved diets and reduced associated health risks such as heart disease, obesity and cancer for M&S customers, as well as increased sales for the company.
  • Since 2011, an estimated three million UK milk consumers a year have benefitted from the research.
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There is evidence that replacing a proportion of the saturated fats in milk with mono or polyunsaturated fats improves human cholesterol levels once consumed. Our research could be the answer to a global problem.