News & Media

New dairy research shows not all saturated fats are the same

The AFGC keeps a watching brief on research publications across scientific and technical disciplines of importance to the food industry. 

DairyDietary guidelines around the globe recommend limiting dairy fats, which are high in saturated fat, to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).  However, emerging evidence is showing that the type of dairy foods and processing of these foods may reduce CVD risk. For example, some studies show fermented dairy such as cheese and yoghurt may be cardio-protective. 

In this latest study, based in Sweden which is a country with a very high dairy food intake, results show the risk of a CVD incident was lowest for those people with high levels of dairy fat and therefore dairy food intake.  

The authors put forward some potential reasons for this effect such as the intake of other nutrients in dairy fat or dairy fat-rich foods that have a protective heart benefit. Cheese is rich in Vitamin K, for example, and may reduce calcification of blood vessels. Probiotics in dairy foods, such as yoghurt, may interact with the gut microbiota and provide other heart protective benefits.    

One of the limitations of the study is that the results cannot be generalised to other ethnic group beyond Scandinavia, and that the study could not discern different types of dairy foods e.g. cheese, milk, butter and yoghurt which may make a significant difference to CVD outcome.  

Key take out – this study indicate that higher intake of dairy fats are linked with lower risk of CVD risk. More studies are recommended to further understand the “how” and “what” types of dairy foods may protect cardiovascular health.  

Reference – Trieu K et al. Biomarkers of dairy fat intake, incident cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: A cohort study, systematic review, and meta-analysis. PLOS Med. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003763 

Note – A more detailed discussion of this article can be found in the AFGC’s Research Round Up October edition (to subscribe contact Anne-Marie Mackintosh)