Study finds consuming more dairy fat can lower risk of cardiovascular disease

Local dairy researchers and dietitians say these findings are positive
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 3:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new study suggests people with a higher consumption of dairy fat have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

An international team of scientists studied the dairy fat consumption of more than 4,000 60-year-olds in Sweden.

They measured blood levels of a particular fatty acid that’s mostly found in dairy foods. Experts then followed them for an average of 16 years.

Researchers found those with high levels of the fatty acid - indicating a high intake of dairy fats - had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

John Lucey, the director for the Center for Dairy Research, says the findings of the study did not surprise him.

“It’s in a long line of them now that I’ve seen over the last ten years and coming up with similar conclusions,” said Lucey. “There’s been a series of these studies that have come out and really cast doubt on whether there are negative associations with consuming dairy products, especially ones with high fat.”

He says in the last decade there’s been a shift in attitude toward dairy products.

“It’s gone from what I would say a perception of negative to kind of neutral,” said Lucey. “Now, it’s maybe even slightly positive and that’s a big change.”

Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Andrea Miller has noticed a similar trend.

“This study is telling us not to be afraid of fat in dairy,” said Miller.

She says prior research showed that because of the high saturated fats in whole milk and cottage cheese, there were recommendations to switch to skim milk and fat-free dairy products.

“There’s a lot of nutrition in dairy fat,” said Miller. “Dairy doesn’t necessarily offer the same health risks as say other animal fats for instance.”

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Miller says, like all changes to any diet, dairy should be eaten in moderation.

“When we integrate it into our lifestyle with other fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats, that overall eating plan is what’s beneficial,” said Miller.

Dietitians say dairy can help expand dietary options.

“It’s less limiting,” said Miller. “It reminds us that we don’t have to be so restrictive and that balance and variety is a good thing.”

To view the full results of the study, click HERE.

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