A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Australia, Sweden, and the US found that a higher milk fat intake might be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Their research, recently published in the PLoS ONE journal, included examining a large number of respondents over a long time. It also involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of 17 other relevant observational studies.
The study examined 4,000 Swedish 60-year-old individuals and closely followed the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, deaths, and other severe circulatory events during the median follow-up of about 16 years.
The study results were somewhat surprising. They found that high dairy fat intake was the least concerning CVD risk factor. Other factors such as old age, income levels, lifestyle, dietary habits, illness history, etc., proved to pose a higher risk.
What’s more, individuals with higher fatty acid levels in the blood are less likely to develop CVDs than those who limit dairy fat intake. Additionally, higher milk fat consumption was not linked to increased mortality risk.
Though many food guidelines previously suggested that reducing dairy fat intake may lower CVD risk, the current studies indicate just the opposite. There’s even some evidence that dairy products (especially fermented, probiotic-containing ones) may benefit heart health.
Furthermore, evidence shows that the health impact of dairy items (e.g., cheese, yogurt, milk, butter, etc.) relies more on the dairy food type than the fat level. Therefore, choosing yogurt instead of butter may be a more heart-healthy option.
However, though this study shed light on potential cardioprotective features of milk fat, more research is required to understand whether and how dairy food protects cardiovascular health.