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Heart disease risk lowered with full-fat milk

dairy products on a table


Dairy has been getting a bad name over the years, particularly for the fats it contains and its link to heart disease and stroke. However, new research from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) suggests there is no significant link between dairy fats and the risk of heart disease or death.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in Australia and are often associated with saturated fats in your diet. But this new research discovered that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and actually guard against having a severe stroke.

The researchers found that people with higher fatty acid levels had a 42 per cent lower risk of dying from stroke.

For this study, the researchers measured the plasma levels of three different fatty acids found in dairy products at the beginning of 1992, again six years later and then 13 years later. The study involved 3000 adults aged 65 years and older.

The researchers evaluated how multiple biomarkers of fatty acid present in dairy fat related to heart disease and all-cause mortality over a 22-year period. Previous studies used self-reported consumption data to evaluate the role of long-term exposure to fatty acids. But in this study, the new methodology used gave a more objective analysis of the data.

The study found that none of the fatty acid types were significantly associated with total mortality. In fact, one type of fatty acid was linked to lower cardiovascular disease deaths. The researchers found that people with higher fatty acid levels —suggesting higher consumption of whole-fat dairy products — had a 42 per cent lower risk of dying from stroke.

The researchers suggest that current dietary guidelines that encourage consumption of low-fat dairy products including cheese, milk and yoghurt need to be changed to include whole fat dairy products. Low-fat dairy products like chocolate milk and yoghurt contain high amounts of added sugars which can lead to poor metabolic and cardiovascular health. But whole fat dairy products are rich in potassium and calcium that are essential for health not only in childhood but as you grow older, particularly when undernourishment and osteoporosis are common.

With so much conflicting information available on dietary habits, it is easy to get confused about what is good for your health. But robust studies like these give the evidence needed for you to make an informed choice about your health.

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!