Dairy consumption linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality

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News reports have suggested that whole milk and full-fat dairy products could be good for you, but are they really healthier than low-fat versions?

The high intake group, which had an average of three servings per day, was found to have lower rates of death due to cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular causes, heart disease and stroke compared to the no intake group.

The global collaboration of researchers asked over 135,000 people in 21 countries to complete a food diary at the beginning of the study, and followed their health for an average of 9.1 years.

According to the recent study conducted by the Mcmaster University in Canada, one serving of whole-fat milk, as well as other regular dairy foods, reduce heart diseases risks.

Experts say these findings may be most important in poorer countries where dairy consumption is low.

"The results from the PURE study seem to suggest that dairy intake, especially whole-fat dairy, might be beneficial for preventing deaths and major cardiovascular diseases", said Dr. Jimmy Chun Yu Louie, from the University of Hong Kong, and Dr. Anna M. Rangan, from the University of Sydney.

"It is probably wise and beneficial to be sure you're including dairy in that overall heart-healthy dietary pattern, but we would continue to recommend that you make lower fat selections in the dairy products", Carson told MedPage Today regarding the study, with which she was not involved.

The subjects completed questionnaires on their dairy intake.

Higher intake of milk and yoghurt (above 1 serving per day) was associated with lower rates of heart diseases and total deaths (milk: 6.2% vs 8.7%; yoghurt: 6.5% vs 8.4%), compared to no consumption. Nor does it show that full-fat dairy is better than low-fat dairy.

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However, they conflict with current dietary guidelines which recommend consuming two to four servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy per day and minimising consumption of whole-fat dairy products for cardiovascular disease prevention, authors note.

Turns out, dairy consumption can lower the rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality, compared to lower levels of consumption.

The PURE study has been controversial for a wide range of findings contravening conventional dietary advice, from salt to vegetable intake.

One standard serving of dairy is defined by the authors of the study as equivalent to a glass of milk, just under 250g yoghurt, one 15g slice of cheese at or a teaspoon of butter.

"Focusing on low-fat is predominantly based on the assumption that saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol".

The guideline-based recommendations focusing on low-fat dairy products, as well as the focus on saturated fat, need to account for data derived from countries outside the United States or Europe, according to the PURE researchers. "Last year, we published results from PURE showing that saturated fat was inversely associated with mortality". "However dairy contains many diversified components [which may be healthy] - amino acids, vitamin Ample, calcium, magnesium".

The American Heart Association has recommendations for a heart-healthy diet.

Dehghan pointed out that individuals in some countries-Sweden, for example-already consume plenty of dairy and said they are not encouraging people from these countries to eat more yogurt, milk, or cheese. "Therefore, when you're focusing on low-fat dairy, we're scaring people about the harms". "We're saying moderate consumption, regardless of fat, is safe", she said. While multiple weighted food records may be more accurate, they require extensive training, motivation, awareness and literacy which limits the practicality for such a large long-term study.

The findings are consistent with previous meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials, according to the researchers.

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