In the 20th century, scientific and geopolitical events led to the concept of food as a delivery system for calories and specific isolated nutrients. As a result, conventional dietary guidelines have focused on individual nutrients to maintain health and prevent disease. For dairy foods, this has led to general dietary recommendations to consume 2-3 daily servings of reduced-fat dairy foods, without regard to type (e.g., yogurt, cheese, milk), largely based on theorized benefits of isolated nutrients for bone health (e.g., calcium, vitamin D) and theorized harms of isolated nutrients for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and obesity (e.g., total fat, saturated fat, total calories). However, advances in nutrition science have demonstrated that foods represent complex matrices of nutrients, minerals, bioactives, food structures, and other factors (e.g., phoshopholipids, prebiotics, probiotics) with correspondingly complex effects on health and disease. The present evidence suggests that whole-fat dairy foods do not cause weight gain, that overall dairy consumption increases lean body mass and reduces body fat, that yogurt consumption and probiotics reduce weight gain, that fermented dairy consumption including cheese is linked to lower CVD risk, and that yogurt, cheese, and even dairy fat may protect against type 2 diabetes. Based on the current science, dairy consumption is part of a healthy diet, without strong evidence to favor reduced-fat products; while intakes of probiotic-containing unsweetened and fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese appear especially beneficial.