The research paper detailing such results was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and included almost 150,000 participants from 21 countries, spanning from North America to Asia. Participants ranged from 35 to 70 years of age, and they were asked to document their food intake via a questionnaire for over a year. Also included in the analysis was each participant’s medical history, prescriptions, education, blood pressure, waist circumference, and levels of glucose and fat in the blood.
The health of the participants were followed up, on average, nine years later.
From the large dataset, the researchers found that having two servings of dairy per day was associated with a 24 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
More interestingly, having two servings of whole-fat dairy was associated with a 28 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
Meanwhile, the consumption of only low-fat dairy products was not associated with a lower metabolic syndrome risk at all.
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“Higher intake of dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese – especially whole-fat dairy rather than low-fat dairy – is associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and with a lower risk of developing hypertension and diabetes.”
Dr Mente went on to dispel the myth that dairy products are harmful to your health.
“Dairy foods and dairy fat provide high-quality protein and a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals,” he said, such as:
- Vitamins A
- Vitamin B12
Senior dietician Victoria Taylor addressed the health concerns over full-fat dairy.
“UK guidelines still recommend choosing reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt,” she pointed out.
This is because full-fat dairy continues saturated fat – a substance linked to raised cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol is a real health risk, strongly associated with heart attacks and/or strokes.
However, studies are demonstrating that – despite its saturated fat content – dairy foods can even have “a positive effect”.
“They could also help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and blood pressure,” Taylor concurred.
She did caution that most studies demonstrating this link “can’t prove cause and effect”.
“There is still more to learn about why dairy foods could be even healthier than we thought,” said Taylor.
However, low-fat dairy is still a good option for those who already have high cholesterol or for those who are trying to watch their weight.