Cardiovascular health

Saturated fatty acids from dairy: an exception for cardiovascular health?


Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are generally considered bad for cardiovascular health. However, as explained in this review, in the context of dairy products, in particular fermented foods, it is a different matter.

Supportive research findings

This review conducted by researchers from the Atherosclerosis Research Program, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, in Oakland (California), reminds us that when SFAs are replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids, a reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk is observed, whereas there is no benefit, or even increased risk, when SFAs are replaced by carbohydrates, especially sugar.

Foods rather than nutrients

In particular, they draw attention to the fact that there is growing evidence that SFAs in the context of dairy foods, particularly fermented dairy products, have neutral or inverse associations with CVD. They estimate that the recommendations for heart-healthy eating should be expressed in terms of foods, favoring vegetables, fish, nuts and whole versus processed grains, rather than focusing on the macronutrient content.

Source: Siri-Tarino PW et al., Saturated Fats Versus Polyunsaturated Fats Versus Carbohydrates for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Treatment, July 2015, Annual Review of Nutrition, Vol (35), pp. 517-543.

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