Cardiovascular health

Yogurt consumption to prevent cardiometabolic diseases: epidemiologic and experimental studies

cardiometabolic diseases

The Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative’s presentations on September 16 at the International Union of Nutritional Science’s 20th International Congress of Nutrition (Granada, Spain) featured information from experts who spoke about the main science related to yogurt and identified gaps that need to be addressed within the scientific community, including the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases.

According to Arne Astrup (Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), dairy products contribute important nutrients to our diet, including calcium, protein and other micro- and macro-nutrients.

Dairy products can be high in saturated fats, and dietary guidelines generally recommend reducing the intake of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD).

However, recent evidence question the role of SFAs in CVD, finding that substitution of SFAs in the diet with omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids abundant in vegetable oils can, in fact, lead to an increased risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) and CVD, unless it is balanced with n-3 polyunsaturated fat. Replacing SFAs with carbohydrates of high glycemic index is also associated with a higher risk of CHD. Paradoxically, observational studies indicate that consumption of milk or dairy products is inversely related to incidence of CVD and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome

Consumption of dairy products has been suggested to ameliorate characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, increased blood pressure and abdominal obesity that together markedly increase the risk of diabetes and CVD.

Dairy products, like cheese, do not exert the negative effects on blood lipids as predicted solely by the content of saturated fat. Calcium, protein and other bioactive components may modify the effects on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and energy balance. Apart from supplying valuable dairy nutrients, yogurt may also exert beneficial probiotic effects.

The consumption of yogurt, and other dairy products, in observational studies is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as CVD, and these findings are, in part, supported by randomized trials.

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