Cardiovascular health

Prevention of cardiometabolic diseases: the SFA paradox

saturated fatty acids - yogurt

Although dairy products provide us with important nutrients, they can also be high in saturated fats, and dietary guidelines generally recommend reducing the intake of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) to reduce coronary artery disease (CAD).

Paradoxically, observational studies indicate that the consumption of milk or dairy products is inversely related to incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

It has been suggested that the consumption of dairy products can improve characteristics of this metabolic syndrome, which encompasses a cluster of risk factors including dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, and abdominal obesity, all of which markedly increase the risk of diabetes and CVD.

In actual fact, the effect of particular foods on CAD cannot be predicted solely by their total SFA content because individual SFAs have different effects on CAD risk, and foods which are major sources of SFAs also contain other nutrients that influence CAD risk.

Dairy products, such as cheese, do not exert the negative effects on blood lipids as predicted solely by their saturated fat content. Calcium and other bioactive components may modify the effects on LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Fermented milk products, particularly 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, obesity, and CVD, and these findings are, in part, supported by randomized trials.

Source: Astrup A. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ; 99(5) : 1235S-1242S.

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