An international team of researchers studied the consumption of milk fat in 4,150 60-year-olds in Sweden — a country with one of the world’s highest levels of dairy production and consumption — by measuring blood levels of a particular fatty acid found mostly in dairy products. Experts then followed the cohort for an average of 16 years to observe how many had heart attacks, strokes and other serious circulatory events, and how many of them died.
After statistically adjusting for other known cardiovascular disease risk factors, including age, income, lifestyle, diet, and other diseases, the researchers found that those with high levels of the fatty acid – signs of a high intake of lactic fat – had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. , as well as no increased risk of death from any cause.
The team then confirmed these findings in other populations after combining the Swedish results with 17 other studies involving a total of almost 43,000 people from the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
“Although the results may be partly influenced by factors other than milk fat, our study does not suggest any harm of milk fat per se,” said Matti Marklund, senior researcher at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney and co-author of the paper. declaration.
“We found those with the highest levels actually had the lowest risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease). These conditions are very interesting, but we need further research to better understand the full health impact of milk fats and dairy products,” he said.
Lead author Kathy Trieu, a researcher at the George Institute, said that consumption of some dairy products, especially fermented products, had previously been associated with benefits for the heart.
Dairy products are rich in nutrients
“More and more evidence suggests that the health consequences of dairy products may be more dependent on the type – such as cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter – rather than the fat content, which has raised doubts as to whether avoiding milk fat is generally beneficial to cardiovascular health. She said in the statement.
“Our study suggests that cutting down on milk fat or avoiding dairy altogether may not be the best choice for heart health,” she added.
“It is important to remember that although dairy products can be rich in saturated fat, they are also rich in many other nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet. But other fats such as those found in seafood, nuts and Non-tropical vegetable oils can have greater health benefits than milk fat, “said Trieu.
Brian Power, associate professor at the Department of Health and Nutrition at the Irish Institute of Technology Sligo, said the study encourages us to “reconsider what we think we know about food and disease.”
“Dairy products need not be avoided,” Power, who was not involved in the investigation, told CNN in an email. “This is largely lost in its translation when we communicate what we know about healthy eating.”
Data suggest correlation rather than causality
Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior researcher at Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, told CNN that her main concern was that the study results could be interpreted to suggest that all full-fat dairy products reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, adding: “The majority of data support not consuming full-fat dairy products to reduce CVD risk. “
She said the study data showed that the group with the highest biomarker for dairy intake also had, among other things, a significantly lower BMI, was more physically active, had a lower smoking rate, lower rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a higher level of education, higher intake of vegetables, fruits and fish and lower intake of processed meat – thus a higher dietary quality – all factors associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
“They were checked for in the statistical analyzes, but residual confusion can not be ruled out. The reported data is for associations, but associations can not establish causality,” she told CNN in an email, adding that it was also remarkable, that the authors could not identify what type of dairy products their cohort ingested.
By: PLOS Medicine