Fermented dairy products, which also include kefir, quark and sour milk, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)—where the arteries become blocked—by around 26 per cent.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland made the discovery when they tracked the health and diets of around 2,000 men for 20 years. In that time, 472 developed CHD—but most cases were among those who followed offical guidelines of eating low-fat or no-fat diets.
Those who ignored the advice and ate a little dairy most days were protected, and their blood lipid profiles—where cholesterol levels are measured—were also healthier.
The one exception was among those who drank large amounts of milk every day. People consuming 0.9 litres (one-and-half pints) increased their risk of CHD, but the risk disappeared among those who drank more normal amounts.
The researchers say they don't know why fermented dairy produce should have such a positive effect but speculate that compounds could be created in the fermentation process that protects the cardiovascular system.