Dairy Fat


Could Dairy Fat be Good for your Heart?

You may have heard that eating low-fat dairy foods is healthier for your heart than full-fat dairy. Dairy foods are those that are made from milk, including cheese, ice cream and yogurt. Some studies have shown that eating low-fat dairy foods reduces the risk of stroke and high blood pressure. In a recent article in the Journal of the American Heart Association, however, MESA author Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto’s study shows that full-fat dairy foods may not be as harmful as were once thought.

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Dr. Otto looked at three different substances in the blood called biomarkers to see if any were related to eating full-fat dairy foods. Her team found one specific acid that best reflected eating these foods in 2,837 MESA participants. Her team then compared risk for heart disease among participants with different levels of this acid in blood.

The results were surprising. The risk of heart disease among those with the highest levels of this acid was 26% lower compared to those with lower levels. In other words, participants eating more foods with dairy fat (cheese, whole milk and whole-fat yogurt) were at lower risk of heart disease compared to those eating less of these foods. This was true for both men and women, and for all racial and ethnic groups. These results were similar to prior studies that showed eating more whole fat dairy foods, especially cheese and yogurt, may be good for cardiovascular and metabolic health.

This paper is one piece of a complicated puzzle of how diet and disease relate. This study shows the need for more studies on dairy, its fat and heart disease. It may also have effects on future dietary recommendations, especially those at risk of heart disease.