Surprising new find: high-fat dairy intake may be healthier for your heart

Sep 22, 2021
Studies show that you can maintain proper cardiovascular health with a high-fat dairy diet. Source: Getty

Adhering to a low-fat dairy diet may not be the only option for healthy cardiovascular health, a fascinating new study has revealed.

The George Institute for Global Health, whose headquarters are in Sydney, has today released a study of more than 4,000 Swedish students which found that those who consumed higher intakes of dairy fat, had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Contrary to popular belief, the study revealed comprehensive evidence that linked the objective measure of dairy fat intake, risk of CVD and death, with a positive response to a higher dairy intake.

The Institute’s senior researcher Dr Matti Marklund said that a better understanding of dairy was needed as its consumption continued to rise worldwide.

“Many studies have relied on people being able to remember and record the amounts and types of dairy foods they’ve eaten, which is especially difficult given that dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods,” he said.

“Instead, we measured blood levels of certain fatty acids, or fat ‘building blocks’ that are found in dairy foods, which gives a more objective measure of dairy fat intake that doesn’t rely on memory or the quality of food databases.”

Dr Marklund said despite the statistics showing that high levels of dairy intake were low risk, there still needed to be additional research into the matter.

“We found those with the highest levels actually had the lowest risk of CVD. These relationships are highly interesting, but we need further studies to better understand the full health impact of dairy fats and dairy foods,” he said.

The Institute’s researchers in Sweden, Australia and the United States also assessed the dairy fat consumption in 4,150 Swedish 60-year-olds in a separate study conducted during a 16-year period.

The results were consistent with the student study which found older participants with the lowest risk of CVD consumed the highest intake of dairy.

The 16-year study was also statistically adjusted to include other CVD risk factors such as age, income, lifestyle, dietary habits and other diseases.

The Institute’s lead author Dr Kathy Trieu suggested that consuming some dairy foods, with a focus on fermented foods, were particularly good for heart health.

“Increasing evidence suggests that the health impact of dairy foods may be more dependent on the type: such as cheese, yoghurt, milk, and butter, rather than the fat content, which has raised doubts if avoidance of dairy fats overall is beneficial for cardiovascular health,” she said.

The majority of experts agree that the most important thing you can do is ensure you consume a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, fat and dairy, and always consider seeing a medical professional if you are struggling with your diet.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Do you consume many dairy products?

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