Cardiovascular health

Can dairy saturated fatty acids help to reduce cardiovascular risk?

Can dairy saturated fatty acids help to reduce cardiovascular risk?

This prospective study shows that, although the total intake of saturated fatty acids is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the intake of saturated fatty acids from dairy products is not. Quite the contrary, in fact.


7,038 participants at high risk of CVD were examined in the PREDIMED study (PREvencion con DIeta MEDiterranea) with a 6-year follow-up. Unsurprisingly, monounsaturated fatty acid and polyunsaturated fatty acid intakes were associated with a reduction of CVD risk (- 50% and -32% respectively between extreme quintiles), whereas the intakes of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and trans-fats are associated with increased risk (+81% and +67% respectively).

Less risk with SFA from dairy

The purpose of this study was to go further in studying the different sources of SFAs separately. As a result, it appears that SFAs from dairy products have a tendency to be associated with a reduced risk, whereas SFAs in pastries and other processed foods (cookies, donuts, bakery, sauces, pizza and other) are significantly associated with an increased risk of CVD (+46%). According to the authors, the beneficial effects of dairy products on CVD are mainly attributed to other nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, peptides, and some vitamins, instead of only the type of SFA.

Source: “Dietary fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in a population at high risk of cardiovascular disease” by Marta Guasch-Ferré, Nancy Babio, Miguel A Martínez-González, Dolores Corella, Emilio Ros, Sandra Martín-Peláez, Ramon Estruch, Fernando Arós, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, Miquel Fiol, José M Santos-Lozano, Lluís Serra-Majem, Mònica Bulló, Estefanía Toledo, Rocío Barragán, Montserrat Fitó, Alfredo Gea, and Jordi Salas-Salvadó, for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. The article appears in Am J Clin Nutr, First published November 11, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.116046

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