New research conducted among the world’s biggest consumers of dairy foods has shown that those with higher intakes of dairy fat measured by levels of fatty acids in the blood had a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases as compared to those with low intakes of dairy fat. Thus, higher intakes of dairy fat are not associated with an increased risk of death.
Researchers then proceeded to combine the results of this study that involved just over 4,000 Swedish adults with those from 17 similar studies in other countries, effectively creating the most comprehensive evidence to date on the relationship between the consumption of dairy fat, risk of cardiovascular disease, and death.
Dr Matti Marklund from The George Institute for Global Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Uppsala University says that with the rising consumption of dairy fat worldwide, a better understanding of its health impact was needed.
He further added that “Many studies have relied on people being able to remember and record the amounts and types of dairy foods they’ve eaten, which is especially difficult given that dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods. Instead, we measured blood levels of certain fatty acids, or fat ‘building blocks that are found in dairy foods, which gives a more objective measure of dairy fat intake that doesn’t rely on memory or the quality of food databases.”
Dr Marklund concluded that “We found those with the highest levels actually had the lowest risk of CVD. These relationships are highly interesting, but we need further studies to better understand the full health impact of dairy fats and dairy foods.”
Sweden has among the highest levels of dairy and dairy product consumption in the world. For this study, an international collaboration between researchers from Sweden, Australia, and the US assessed dairy fat consumption in 4,150 Swedish 60-year olds by measuring blood levels of a particular fatty acid that is mainly found in dairy foods and can be used to reflect the intake of dairy fat.
The participants of the study were then followed for 16 years to see how many had heart attacks, strokes, and other serious circulatory events and how many died from various causes during the study period.
The risk of cardiovascular disease was lowest for those with high levels of fatty acid (reflecting high intake of dairy fat) after statistically adjusting for other known CVD risk factors that included things like age, dietary habits, lifestyle, and other diseases. Those with the highest levels of dairy fat intake had no increased risk of death from all causes.
Dr. Marklund says that the findings of this study highlight the uncertainty of evidence in this area, and this is also reflected in dietary guidelines. He further adds that “While some dietary guidelines continue to suggest consumers choose low-fat dairy products, others have moved away from that advice, instead suggesting dairy can be part of a healthy diet with an emphasis on selecting certain dairy foods — for example, yogurt rather than butter — or avoiding sweetened dairy products that are loaded with added sugar.”
Sciencedaily.com Sticking to low-fat dairy may not be the only heart healthy option, study shows
The George Institute for Global Health Sticking to low-fat dairy may not be the only heart healthy option, study shows
PLOS Medicine Biomarkers of dairy fat intake, incident cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: A cohort study, systematic review, and meta-analysis
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