Full-Fat Dairy Protects Against Heart Disease and Boosts Longevity, New International Study Finds

September 16, 2018 at 1:28 pm

People who consume lots of whole-fat dairy live longer and have lower rates of heart disease than those who consume skim milk or no milk.

People who consumed 3 servings of full-fat dairy per day had lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality than those who consumed less than half a serving, a study of 130,000 people across 21 countries published in The Lancet September 11 finds.

The findings are consistent with previous studies, but stand in contrast to current dietary guidelines which recommend consuming 2-4 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy per day, and avoiding  consumption of whole-fat dairy for cardiovascular disease prevention.

With cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of mortality worldwide, the authors conclude whole-fat dairy should be encouraged, not discouraged.

“Our findings support that consumption of dairy products might be beneficial for mortality and cardiovascular disease, especially in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is much lower than in North America or Europe,” says lead author Dr. Mahshid Dehghan of McMaster University in Canada.

Dairy consumption was highest in North America and Europe (above 4 servings per day) and lowest in south Asia, China, Africa and southeast Asia (less than 1 serving per day).

A serving of dairy was equivalent to an 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, one slice of  cheese, or a teaspoon of butter.

Participants were grouped into four categories: no dairy, less than 1 serving per day, 1-2 servings per day, and 3 servings per day.

The people who consumed 3 servings of full-fat dairy per day had lower rates of total mortality (3.4%) than those who consumed no dairy (5.6%) and lower rates of cardiovascular disease (3.5% vs 4.9%)

Higher intake of milk and yoghurt (above 1 serving per day) was associated with lower rates of the composite outcome, which combines total mortality and cardiovascular disease (6.2% vs 8.7%), compared to no consumption.

The authors say that more research into why dairy might be protective against cardiovascular diseases is now needed.

“The recommendation to consume low-fat dairy is based on the presumed harms of saturated fats on a single cardiovascular risk marker, LDL cholesterol,” the authors say.

“However, 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 [if not pasteurized or fermented]. The effect of dairy on cardiovascular health should therefore consider the net effect on health outcomes of all these elements.”

The author of this article would add that grass-fed milk has a totally different fat composition than factory-farmed milk. For example, it is much higher in heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. And that homogenization denatures the fat and pasteurization destroys the enzymes and many of the nutrients in milk.

In short, I personally would never recommend factory-farmed milk and personally only consume raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized, grass-fed milk from local, humane farmers.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. I am not a medical professional, only an informed, investigative journalist, who highly recommends this book:

The Untold Story of Milk, Revised and Updated: The History, Politics and Science of Nature’s Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows

RELATED: Why You’ve Never Heard of the Mayo Clinic’s “Raw Milk Cure”