Full fat dairy: CVD and stroke protection?
Consumption of moderate amounts of full fat dairy products is associated with lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular disease events in a diverse multinational cohort, in a study published recently in the Lancet.
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study is a large multinational cohort study of over 135,000 individuals aged 35–70 years from 21 countries in five continents. Intake of dairy products including milk, yoghurt and cheese were recorded using country-specific validated food frequency questionnaires. These foods were also grouped into whole-fat and low-fat dairy. The primary outcome was the composite of mortality or major cardiovascular events (defined as death from cardiovascular causes, non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke, or heart failure).
The study showed that persons who had around three portions of dairy products daily had a lower mortality risk of death and reduced risk of getting cardiovascular disease and stroke compared to the group that did not consume dairy products at all. Furthermore, people who took three servings of whole fat dairy were at a reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who took half a serving of whole-fat dairy daily. The researchers also looked at the differences in health benefits provided by milk and yoghurt compared to butter and cheese. They noted that milk and yoghurt are healthier choices.
The researchers suggested that although previous studies have focussed on the assumption that saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol, dairy products also contain other healthy factors including vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, unsaturated fats and amino-acids.
Although the increased consumption of dairy products may be beneficial for mortality and CVD in lower and middle-income countries, Public Health England is not changing their recommendations about dairy consumption. Dairy consumption in moderation is the advised approach to reduce levels of saturated fat and salt.
Dehghan M, Mente A, Rangarajan S, et al. Association of dairy intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 21 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet 2018;392 (10161): 2288-2297.
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