In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers have found no significant link between Saturated fats in dairy products and, heart disease, stroke and associated mortality. Heart Disease and Stroke are the two biggest killers globally and often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported.
Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Dr. Marcia Otto with co-researchers at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have concluded that enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave,according to findings of the new research.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain a major cause of morbidity and death and diet plays a crucial role in the disease prevention and progression. The negative perception of saturated fats or dairy fats stems from the effort to reduce dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake due to their association with increased cholesterol levels upon consumption and the increased risk of CVD development.
“Our findings not only support but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase the risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke,” said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.
The researchers over a 22-year period evaluated how multiple biomarkers of fatty acid present in dairy fat were related to heart disease and all-cause mortality. About 3,000 adults aged 65 years and older were included in the study, in which plasma levels of three different fatty acids found in dairy products were measured at the beginning in 1992 and again at six and 13 years later.
The researchers found that none of the fatty acid types were significantly associated with total mortality. Rather one type was linked to lower cardiovascular disease deaths. People with higher fatty acid levels and implying higher consumption of whole-fat dairy products, had a 42 percent lower risk of dying from stroke. The measurement methodology, as opposed to the more commonly used self-reported consumption, gave greater and more objective insight into the impact of long-term exposure to these fatty acids, according to the report.
The prevailing Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend serving fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and/or fortified soy beverages. But researchers point out that low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat yogurt and chocolate milk often include high amounts of added sugars, which may lead to poor cardiovascular and metabolic health.
“Consistent with previous findings, our results highlight the need to revisit current dietary guidance on whole fat dairy foods, which are rich sources of nutrients such as calcium and potassium. These are essential for health not only during childhood but throughout life, particularly also in later years when undernourishment and conditions like osteoporosis are more common,” Otto said.
Evidence-based research is key to educating people about nutrition, Otto said.
“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats,” she said. “It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay,” she added.
The research although has provided much-wanted relief to people fond of consuming high-fat dairy products but has also provided new ground for discussion on the matter.
For more information log on to https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy117