The study also suggests that a high dairy fat intake is not associated with an increased risk of death
In a study published in PLoS Medicine journal, researchers measured dairy intakes by levels of fatty acids in the blood.
“Many studies have relied on people being able to remember and record the amounts and types of dairy foods they have eaten, which is especially difficult, given dairy is commonly used in a variety of foods,” says study co-author Dr Matti Marklund of Uppsala University, Suède.
“Instead, we measured blood levels of certain fatty acids, or fat ‘building blocks’ that are found in dairy foods, which gives a more objective measure of dairy fat intake that doesn’t rely on memory or the quality of food databases.
“We found those with the highest levels actually had the lowest risk of CVD.”
The findings are based on just over 4,000 Swedish adults, who are among the world’s biggest consumers of dairy products. The results were confirmed by pooling data from 17 other studies involving almost 43,000 participants in the UK, the US and Denmark.
Dairy fat consumption was assessed in the Swedish 60-year-olds by measuring blood levels of a particular fatty acid that is mainly found in dairy foods and can be used to reflect intake of dairy fat.
They were tracked for an average of 16 years to see how many had heart attacks, strokes and other serious cardiovascular events, and how many died from any cause during this time.
The CVD risk was lowest for those with high levels of the fatty acid – reflecting a high intake of dairy fats. This was after taking into account factors including age, income, mode de vie, dietary habits and other illnesses.
Those with the highest levels had no increased risk of death from all causes.
Dr Marklund said the findings highlight the uncertainty of evidence in this area, which is reflected in dietary guidelines.
Il a dit: “While some dietary guidelines continue to suggest consumers choose low-fat dairy products, others have moved away from that advice, instead suggesting dairy can be part of a healthy diet with an emphasis on selecting certain dairy foods – for example, yoghurt rather than butter– or avoiding sweetened dairy products that are loaded with added sugar.”
Il ajouta: “While the findings may be partly influenced by factors other than dairy fat, our study does not suggest any harm of dairy fat per se.”
“These relationships are highly interesting, but we need further studies to better understand the full health impact of dairy fats and dairy foods.”
For years, many experts have urged adults to skip fatty dairy foods to stay healthy.
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer, claiming almost 18 million lives annually. It causes around a quarter of all deaths in the UK – more than 160,000 each year.