Full-fat milk and products made from it, like cheese and yogurt, don’t have the healthiest reputation. But researchers have found evidence that might help clear their names: according to a meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, eating high amounts of milk and dairy foods—even full-fat versions—appears to have a neutral effect on cardiovascular health. The analysis included data from 938,465 men and women, ages 34 to 80, from a total of 29 studies conducted in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States. The studies all included information about the relationship between milk and dairy food intake and the incidence of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and death due to any cause. After analyzing this data from the studies, researchers found:
There were no associations between total, low-fat, and high-fat dairy, milk, and yogurt intakes and the risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or death due to any cause.
A small apparent benefit from eating fermented dairy foods, and cheese in particular, disappeared when a Swedish study with over 61,000 female participants was removed from the analysis. When it was removed, the remaining evidence didn’t show a relationship between eating fermented dairy food intake and any benefits.
This isn’t the first time research has found that high-fat dairy can have a prominent place in a healthy diet. For example, previous research found that eating full-fat, rather than low-fat, dairy products could help reduce belly fat. But before you milk these findings for all they’re worth, it’s important to know this study was funded by several dairy associations. More unbiased research, including controlled clinical trials, will help us to fully understand dairy’s relationship with cardiovascular and overall health.
Source: European Journal of Epidemiology