Eating cheese could actually be good for your health

Leslie Hanson
September 14, 2018

Research finds three servings of full-fat dairy may in fact be good for your heart.

People who ate three portions of full-fat milk, butter, cheese or yoghurt were a quarter less likely to succumb to an early death, compared with those who ate less than half a serving a day.

A team of researchers from the McMaster University in Canada looked at 136,384 people from 21 different countries between ages of 35 and 70 years.

Those who consumed the most whole fat dairy at 3.2 servings per day on average had lower mortality rates at 3.3 percent from the baseline and a 3.7 percent risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They agree with Dehghan and the PURE researchers in that dairy consumption should be encouraged in low-to-middle income countries, but say "it is not the ultimate seal of approval for recommending whole-fat dairy over its low-fat or skimmed counterparts".

Frida Harju-Westman, in-house nutritionist at global health app, Lifesum, says cheeses like quark are a healthy dairy option, as they are lower in salt than other cheeses and high in protein. The researchers are now performing another analysis of the data, one looking at the association between dairy and cardiometabolic risk factors, and they have observed significantly lower blood pressure among those who consumed more dairy, she said. The total mortality risk stands at 5.4 percent for those with a low intake of dairy, compared to 3.4 percent for those with a high intake.

A large-scale study found that full-fat dairy products may help you live longer.

Turns out, dairy consumption can lower the rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality, compared to lower levels of consumption. This new finding is contrary to conventional dietary guidelines.

For starters, dairy wasn't bad yesterday - the Australian Dietary Guidelines now prescribe 2.5 daily serves of "milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)", and they're based in slow-moving-but-solid science.

"Diet is one of the most important modifiable risk factors of chronic disease", lead author Dr Mahshid Dehghan, a senior research associate at McMaster University, said. Higher intakes of milk and yogurt were both associated with a reduction in the primary composite endpoint of all-cause mortality and major cardiovascular disease events, but cheese intake was not.

It was also noted that more research into why dairy might be associated with lower levels of cardiovascular diseases is now needed. The American Heart Association also singles out saturated fats, specifying that people wishing to lower their LDL cholesterol should reduce their intake of saturated fat to 5 or 6% of their total calories.

But evidence suggests that some saturated fats may be beneficial to cardiovascular health, and dairy products may also contain other potentially beneficial compounds, including specific amino acids, unsaturated fats, vitamin K1 and K2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and potentially probiotics.

"Dairy products don't need to be excluded from the diet to prevent heart and circulatory diseases and are already part of the eatwell guide, which is the basis for our healthy eating recommendations in the UK".

But, Jimmy Chun Yu Louie, MNutrDiet, PhD, of the University of Hong Kong, and Anna Rangan, PhD, of the University of Sydney, an accompanying commentary cautioned against changing guidelines just yet in an accompanying commentary.

For years, specialists like advised low-corpulent dairy merchandise over the fleshy-corpulent versions, that are larger in energy and have confidence extra saturated corpulent. Watched them for nearly 10 years.

Carson gave the example of patients with high cholesterol who are told to stop eating high-fat dairy.

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

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