In recent years, health-conscious adults have turned away from dairy products, especially milk, and instead opted for more plant-based alternatives. Despite the downward trend in milk, yoghurt and cheese are still household favorites. In fact, U.S. cheese consumption is at an all-time high, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
But shouldn’t Americans be concerned about how all that extra dairy can affect their heart health? The link between milk fat and heart disease is causing health experts to scratch their heads after some convincing studies.
In its current recommendation, the American Heart Association advises adults to consume two to three servings of low-fat or low-fat dairy products a day. In addition, low-fat or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt or low-fat cheese are considered ideal sources. Similarly, the dietary guidelines for Americans suggest three servings of dairy equivalent to three cups. They also recommend limiting saturated fat intake by choosing low-fat dairy products over high-fat dairy products.
However, some studies suggest that diet higher in dairy products does not appear to increase the risk of heart disease. In addition, it is even suggested that dairy products may reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes. But before you pile on the cheese, let’s dive deeper into some of the findings that are still unclear to health experts.
New study sheds light on dairy positively
Apparently, milk fat can reduce your risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine this year. In Sweden, a country with a high dairy consumption, the study examined the blood samples of 4,150 people with a median age of about 60 years.
In addition, researchers followed the participants in the study for approximately 17 years to evaluate their results. Researchers looked for indicators of heart disease, including a history of heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and other related diseases.
In their research, researchers adjusted findings to reflect age, activity level, and diet. Despite this, they discovered surprising results. Participants who were more likely to have milk fat in the bloodstream had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
After seeing the results, the researchers were eager to analyze even more data. In addition, they conducted 18 similar studies involving about 43,000 individuals from the United States, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. They found comparable results in all these studies.
Despite the intriguing findings, it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions about the link between milk fat and heart disease. As they noted in their report, more research is needed. “The results of our study using fatty acid biomarkers suggest that higher milk fat intake was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in different populations, including Sweden (a country with a high dairy intake), although more trials are needed. to understand whether and how dairy products protect cardiovascular health. ”
While PLOS Medicine study presents dairy in a positive light, what is the opinion of other health professionals? Are dairy products a possible way to prevent heart disease?
Is more dairy the answer to heart health?
Despite the fact that PLOS Medicine study is relatively new, there have been previous studies supporting its findings. A review and meta-analysis published in 2017 in Nutrients concluded that dairy consumption can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
In addition, a study was published in 2016 in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined food intake of 220,000 participants on average 26 years, and had them fill out a questionnaire every four years. A wide range of products were consumed, including skimmed milk and low-fat milk, whole milk, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese and other cheeses.
The study concluded that milk fat is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease, similar to PLOS Medicine fund. In addition, participants who replaced animal fats with milk fats had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
So what’s the deal? Do dairy products benefit the heart? These findings suggest that dairy is generally beneficial. However, the answer is not so straightforward. According to Dr. Hu, from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, “the explanation for these observations is not entirely clear, but the other nutrients in dairy products may play a role.”
Dr. Hu. explains that milk contains minerals, calcium and potassium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure. Protein, also found in dairy, helps the body feel full and satisfied, reducing the likelihood of overeating. In addition, Dr. Remember that both yogurt and kefir are high in probiotics, which can provide health benefits to the digestive system and the cardiovascular system.
Nevertheless, according to Dr. Hu consume two servings of dairy a day. “But I would not choose fat milk or eat a lot of cheese,” he added. Instead of pairing dairy with unhealthy choices like pizza, he recommended a healthier alternative. Ideally, you should pair dairy with fruit, whole grains or sprinkle it on salads, according to Dr. Hu. When buying yogurt, choose common varieties with low sugar content.
While dairy has some promising health benefits, research has a long way to go. Until we learn more, we should continue to follow dietary advice.