Posted on May 10, 2017, 10 a.m.
Largest-scale study to date finds that diets high in dairy products (including full-fat) do not lead to increased occurrence of cardiovascular diseases.
Most people assume the consumption of cheese heightens the risk of a heart attack, stroke and other health maladies. A recent study conducted by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Copenhagen University in Denmark shows the consumption of fat dairy products does not boost the risk for such health issues. The study results were recently made public in the European Journal of Epidemiology .
About the Study
Though cheese and other dairy products typically have substantial amounts of saturated fat, they are not as harmful to human health as most believe. This is the conclusion the research team reached after performing a meta-analysis of 29 prior studies of dairy products. These previous studies involved over 900,000 participants from countries across the globe. These studies were conducted over the past 35 years. Five of the studies were performed in the United Kingdom. These studies examined whether dairy product consumption boosted the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, serious heart issues or any other cause. The findings show that the consumption of dairy foods had a neutral effect on health.
Breaking Down the Findings
The meta-analysis determined there are no associations between high-fat, low-fat and moderate-fat diary products and health outcomes. These outcomes include coronary heart disease, all-cause mortality or cardiovascular disease. The findings contrast with the steady stream of anti-dairy attacks unleashed in the media across the past decade. These attacks have convinced people that dairy products with saturated fats will harm the heart and overall cardiovascular health. This is precisely why 85 percent of the milk sold in the United Kingdom is either skim milk or semi-skimmed milk. It is not a stretch to state the majority of people are under the impression that saturated fats really do heighten the odds of cardiovascular disease. Yet this is not the truth.
Though the federal government's health department has pushed consumers to avoid food products high in saturated fat, the bottom line is that dairy products are a core component of a balanced diet. In fact, the research team found that fermented dairy products might even decrease the odds of a stroke or heart attack. Those who are concerned with the high saturated fat and salt content of dairy products should switch to low-fat versions. It is also prudent to limit consumption of high-fat and low-fat dairy products to a reasonable amount.
The Dangers of Avoiding Dairy
The anti-dairy propaganda has spurred countless people to limit their milk and cheese consumption. Young individuals, especially young women have been consuming too little milk out of a concern that dairy products negatively impact health. Yet an insufficient amount of dairy hinders bone development. A lack of dairy consumption can also lead to health issues later in life such as weakened bones, also referred to as osteoporosis.
Furthermore, the lack of dairy consumption prevents youngsters from receiving the proper amount of calcium. It is important for pregnant women to consume a sufficient amount of milk. Otherwise, they could heighten the risk of their child enduring neuro-developmental difficulties. Such difficulties can impact the child's cognitive abilities and even stunt his growth.
Saturated Fat Is an Important Component of Diet
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey determined adults derive about 34 percent of their energy from fats. This figure is slightly below the 35 percent recommended by the government. If butter is removed from consideration, dairy products represent the second largest amount of saturated fat (22 percent) of the typical Briton's diet.
It is worth noting that the research outlined above was partially funded by pro-dairy organizations. However, these groups exerted no influence over the study.
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Jing Guo et al. Milk and dairy consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, European Journal of Epidemiology (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s10654-017-0243-1