Cardiovascular health

Fermented dairy products may help prevent heart disease


Dietary change is one of the most important ways of preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD), which remains a major cause of death and disability across the world. Milk and dairy foods are recommended in most dietary guidelines, but the results of prospective studies on the effects of milk and dairy intake on CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD) and death rate have been contradictory.

In an attempt to clarify the situation, the authors of this study carried out a comprehensive analysis of data from 29 prospective cohort studies.

Consuming fermented dairy products may reduce the risk of CVD

Their meta-analysis revealed that total fermented dairy (sour milk products, cheese and yogurt) intake (per 20 g/day) was associated with modest falls in the risk of CVD and death from all causes (all-cause mortality). There was no link with CHD risk.

In particular, cheese consumption (per 10 g/day) was associated with a 2% reduction in CVD risk, but had no effect on the risks of CHD or all-cause mortality.

Yogurt intake (per 50 g/day) had no effect on the risk of CVD, CHD or all-cause mortality. This finding is unexpected; a 2014 review of randomised trials suggested that yogurt consumption is associated with a reduced risk of CVD. The authors of the current analysis suggest that their failure to show an association may be due to the small number of participants available for this part of the analysis.

Dairy and milk intake show no association with CVD, CHD or mortality

Low-fat milk and dairy products are acknowledged as healthy dietary choices. However, consistent with other reports, the authors of this analysis found no significant associations between high- and low-fat dairy and CVD, CHD or all-cause mortality.

Nutrients in dairy products may counteract any harmful effects

Despite their fat content, milk and dairy products are rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. Calcium, potassium and magnesium have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke. Furthermore, high-fat diets enriched with dairy minerals are associated with reduced total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels.

Full-fat milk and dairy products may be healthier than you think

Full-fat dairy foods have previously been linked to reduced risks of metabolic syndrome and obesity. In addition, a recent data analysis has shown no association between butter consumption and CVD, CHD or stroke, but showed a reduced risk of diabetes.

Find out more & read the original article.

Guo J, Astrup A, Lovegrove JA et al. Milk and dairy consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017;32(4):269-87.

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