Milk does a body good

Milk does a body good

The findings were the same for both whole-fat and low-fat dairy, reported Mahshid Dehghan, PhD, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues in The Lancet.

In an analysis restricted to individuals who consumed only high-fat dairy products, two servings per day versus less than 0.5 servings per day was associated with a 29% reduction in the primary composite endpoint, a 25% reduction in total mortality, and a 32% reduction in major cardiovascular disease.

A team of researchers from the McMaster University in Canada conducted a study on 136,384 people aged between 35 to 70 years old from 21 countries.

Additionally, those who only consumed whole-fat at a higher intake - around three servings per day - had lower rates of death and heart disease that those who less than 0.5 servings of whole-fat dairy per day. However, the findings suggests that dairy consumption, low fat or full fat, helped to prevent deaths and major cardiovascular diseases.

This coverage gave the impression that the study had revealed whole-fat dairy to be better for your health than low-fat versions - however, the study did not find this.

"If you have a good balance with fruits and vegetables and whole grains and a lot of the unsaturated fats... then having the whole fat and fat from dairy isn't going to be a problem", registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey said.

The findings would not be so controversial and surprising if they didn't go completely against conventional dietary advice. Although the consumption of dairy was not associated with a reduction in MI, the risk of stroke was 34% lower among those had at least three daily servings compared with those who ate no dairy at all.

They were a quarter less likely to suffer serious heart disease and less than half as likely to suffer a stroke. "We are suggesting the net effect of dairy intake on health outcome is more important than looking exclusively at one single nutrient". The authors conclude that the consumption of dairy should not be discouraged and should even perhaps be encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is low.

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One standard serving of dairy was equivalent to a glass of milk at 244g, a cup of yoghurt at 244g, one slice of cheese at 15g, or a teaspoon of butter at 5g. The American Heart Association also singles out saturated fats, specifying that people wishing to lower their LDL cholesterol should reduce their intake of saturated fat to 5 or 6% of their total calories.

"Focusing on low-corpulent is predominantly in accordance to the conclusion that saturated corpulent will enhance LDL ldl cholesterol", she says. "Last year, we published results from PURE showing that saturated fat was inversely associated with mortality".

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.

For years, dietary guidelines have urged people to stay away from full-fat dairy, warning of its high saturated fat content which is believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

But, Jimmy Chun Yu Louie, MNutrDiet, PhD, of the University of Hong Kong, and Anna Rangan, PhD, of the University of Sydney, an accompanying commentary cautioned against changing guidelines just yet in an accompanying commentary.

That said, people should stick to low-fat dairy, she advised.

What's especially interesting is that the paper adds to increasing evidence that full-fat dairy in particular need not be feared. "Three servings is moderate consumption, and moderate consumption is beneficial". "However, ideally our findings require confirmation in randomized trials evaluating the effects of increasing dairy consumption on BP, glucose, and clinical outcomes", Dehghan added.