The general belief was that full-fat dairy products should be avoided because they had too many saturated fats. Even some governmental authorities specialized on nutrition agreed to it, but a study challenges these claims.
According to the study led by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian (Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.), whole-fat dairy is not linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, some fats in dairy products could even lower the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Dr. Mozaffarian and his team challenge the popular beliefs and even the stance of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Both governmental departments recommend people to avoid eating full-fat fairy because they increase the levels of cholesterol. According to the USDA, the saturated fats in whole-fat dairy products raise the levels of the “bad” type of cholesterol – which is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. With time, a high level of LDL cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.
But the new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found out that dairy fat is actually good for heart health.
The first and corresponding author of the study, Marcia Otto is an assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center (Houston), in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences. Otto explains that their study wants to provide people with proper information, based on scientific facts:
“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats. It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.”
Which Ones Are Better? Full-Fat vs. Low-Fat Dairy Products
In their study, Dr. Mozaffarian and the team of researchers examined a total of 2,900 U.S. seniors or ages 65 and above. They researched the levels of three fatty acids (found in dairy products) in the plasma of the participants. First, they analyzed those levels in 1992, and then after six years, and after 13 years.
According to their findings, there was no link between those three fatty acids and total mortality. On the contrary, a type of fatty acid lowered heart disease deaths, and people that had higher fatty acid levels had a 42% decrease in death from a stroke. That meant that consuming whole-fat dairy products had an opposite effect of what it was believed so far.
Dietitian and nutrition consultant Chloe McLeod explains that “people are starting to realize that fat is ok,” but she advises that both full-fat dairy and low-fat dairy are healthy and that “everything has its place and there’s different ways it can be used.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.