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14 September 2018, 01:14 | Silvia Roy
STOCK Getty Images People enjoy ice cream in this undated stock
News reports have suggested that whole milk and full-fat dairy products could be good for you, but are they really healthier than low-fat versions?
Compared to people who ate an average three servings of dairy per day, those who ate no dairy had higher rates of overall death (3.4 percent versus 5.6 percent, respectively), heart-related deaths (0.9 percent versus 1.6 percent), major heart disease (3.5 percent versus 4.9 percent), and stroke (1.2 percent versus 2.9 percent) during the study period.
Of PURE participants who consumed full-fat dairy, three or so servings a day was associated with lower rates of total mortality and major cardiovascular disease, compared to those who consumed nearly no full-fat dairy a day.
The researchers who conducted the latest study concluded that the consumption of dairy should not be discouraged - and should even perhaps be encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is low.
Dehghan and her co-authors note that the long-standing recommendation to consume low-fat dairy rests on concern over saturated fat, which has always been vilified for its links to cardiovascular disease.
The subjects completed questionnaires on their dairy intake.
Higher intake of milk and yoghurt (above one serving per day) was associated with lower rates of the composite outcome, which combines total mortality and cardiovascular disease (milk: 6.2% vs 8.7%; yoghurt: 6.5% vs 8.4%), compared to no consumption. A new large study however, has now shown that full-fat dairy and dairy products may be more beneficial for the heart.
"A previous publication found that fat in general was associated with a reduced CHD [coronary heart disease] and stroke risk". This new finding is contrary to conventional dietary guidelines.
Currently, the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends no more than three servings of dairy a day and advises to choose fat-free and low-fat options. "We should not focus on a single nutrient", said Dr. Mahshid Dehghan, the study's lead author.
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"It's time Public Health England and the British Heart Foundation change their guidance immediately and issue a full public apology that for decades they got it wrong because the science linking saturated fat and heart disease was fatally flawed".
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"This exclusively focuses on one single macronutrient-saturated fat-and a single risk factor, which is LDL cholesterol", said Dehghan. "Last year, we published results from PURE showing that saturated fat was inversely associated with mortality". "Therefore, when you're focusing on low-fat dairy, we're scaring people about the harms".
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. "Three servings is moderate consumption, and moderate consumption is beneficial".
Carson gave the example of patients with high cholesterol who are told to stop eating high-fat dairy. Watched them for nearly 10 years.
"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".
"Ideally, the PURE study group should consider another analysis in 5 to 10 years to confirm the findings of this initial analysis or, at the very least, should do an age-stratified analysis rather than an adjustment for age alone", write Louie and Rangan.
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