They were never the bad guys, high-fat dairy protects us from heart disease

They’ve been demonised for the past 40 years as the cause of heart disease, but now researchers have discovered the very opposite: high-fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese and butter, actually reduce your risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease).

People who eat the most dairy in their diet have the greatest protection from CVD, still the West’s major killer, responsible for one in three deaths.

Consuming dairy can reduce your risk by around 14 percent, compared to someone who instead chooses low-fat and non-dairy alternatives, a major new study has discovered.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health profiled the diets and prevalence of CVD disease of 4,150 Swedes, all of whom were 60 years of age, for 16 years, and discovered that those with the highest biomarkers of dairy fat intake were also the least likely to develop CVD.  They checked their analysis with 18 other studies to confirm their findings. 

Dairy has been wrongly fingered as the bad guy.  They are an important source of nutrients, and cheese is especially rich in vitamin K, which the researchers say protects the cardiovascular system, while the probiotics in yoghurt and fermented milk help keep the gut healthy, and this too may have a beneficial effect.

The researchers focused on Sweden because the country’s dairy consumption is one of the highest in the world, and so they could clearly see any effects on cardiovascular health.  Other studies among Nordic people found that drinking non-fermented milk reduced the risk of premature death from any cause.

(Source: PLoS Med, 2021; 18: e1003763)