Whole fat dairy may protect from cardiovascular disease and stroke

Desiree Burns
September 14, 2018

In the study they explain that general dietary guidelines recommend minimizing intake of whole-fat dairy because it adversely affects blood lipids.

The high intake group, which had an average of three servings per day, was found to have lower rates of death due to cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular causes, heart disease and stroke compared to the no intake group.

For the study, the team looked at more than 136,000 people from 21 countries who had participated in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study.

Lead author Dr Mahshid Dehghan of McMaster University, Canada, said: "Our findings support that consumption of dairy products might be beneficial for mortality and cardiovascular disease, especially in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is much lower than in North America or Europe". Speaking to Health Issues India, she said "our study suggests that consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged and perhaps even be encouraged in low and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is low".

The findings would not be so controversial and surprising if they didn't go completely against conventional dietary advice.

Higher intake of milk and yoghurt (above one serving per day) was associated with lower rates of the composite outcome, which combines total mortality and cardiovascular disease (milk: 6.2% vs 8.7%; yoghurt: 6.5% vs 8.4%), compared to no consumption. Nor does it show that full-fat dairy is better than low-fat dairy.

Emer Delaney, a qualified dietitian and British Dietetic Association spokesperson, told Newsweek: "The results are really interesting as they support the use of full-fat dairy products in cardiovascular disease as opposed to low fat or fat-free, which current guidelines advise". Guidelines, including Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommend adults limit saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of energy intake.

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For starters, dairy wasn't bad yesterday - the Australian Dietary Guidelines now prescribe 2.5 daily serves of "milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)", and they're based in slow-moving-but-solid science. "Our study is an observational study and we report association between exposure and outcome we can not prove any causality", emphasized Dehghan.

The research notes that consuming full-fat diary may have health benefits obscured by the perceived impact of saturated fats on cholesterol.

"However, as the authors themselves concluded, the results only suggest the 'consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged and perhaps even be encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries'".

"Focusing on low-corpulent is predominantly in accordance to the conclusion that saturated corpulent will enhance LDL ldl cholesterol", she says.

However, past evidence has suggested there are a number of nutrients found in dairy products including calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins K1 and K2 and probiotics (in yoghurt) that could contribute to a healthy diet.

"Dairy products don't need to be excluded from the diet to prevent heart and circulatory diseases and are already part of the eatwell guide, which is the basis for our healthy eating recommendations in the UK".

There were no noteworthy connections between myocardial infarction and dairy intake (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.71-1.11; P=0.163). "There are no harms in consuming whole-fat dairy". "We're saying moderate consumption, regardless of fat, is safe", she said. Like most nutrition science, it relies on self-reported data from PURE participants about what they ate - data which is likely to be inaccurate. "However, ideally our findings require confirmation in randomized trials evaluating the effects of increasing dairy consumption on BP, glucose, and clinical outcomes", Dehghan added.

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