Over the years, people have switched from whole-fat dairy to low-fat or no-fat options because they were deemed healthier. However, according to a new study, full-fat dairy can actually be good for your heart.
The study, published in the Lancet, was conducted by researchers from McMaster University in Canada who studied 136,384 people aged between 35 to 70 years old from 21 countries and followed them for nine years.
The participants were split into four separate categories: those who ate no dairy at all, those who had less than one serving a day, those who had one or two servings a day and those who ate more than two servings a day. They also tracked whether those who consumed dairy ate whole-fat or low-fat.
The results found that "those who had of two or more servings of full-fat dairy food was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease, a 34 percent lower risk of stroke, and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease."
According to the New York Times, Dr. Mahshid Dehghan, a senior researcher of the study, said that current nutrition info on full-fat dairy might be misguided since it's based on the presumption that saturated fatty acids increase LDL, or "bad cholesterol," however dairy's other healthy components should also be taken into consideration.
"We should not discourage consumption of dairy, especially among people who already have low daily consumption," she said. "If people consume very low amounts, they should be encouraged to increase their consumption."
So does this mean we should reach for the full-fat dairy risk-free? Yes, and no, according to Vanessa Rissetto MS, RD, CDN.
While Rissetto recommends zero percent dairy for her patients to give them the opportunity to add in their own fats to their meals, "there’s nothing wrong with full-fat dairy. It helps keep you full, so no harm there," she tells Organic Authority, adding as long as one doesn't consume over the recommended serving.
Rissetto points out that the participants of the study stuck to the serving size, which was eight ounces of milk or yogurt, a teaspoon of butter or a half-ounce slice of cheese.
"So, of course, there were no adverse effects and in fact, we do a reduction in co-morbidities and disease," she says. "Full fat is not the problem and it never has been; it’s the need to consume things in excess. To be clear, a diet with full-fat dairy in appropriate amounts would mean that you would be full appropriately and not overeat at later meals."
While full-fat dairy isn't exactly harmful in appropriate amounts you still might want to hold off on switching up your low-fat milk. Anna Rangan, associate professor of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Sydney University in Australia, told the Independent that while the study suggests whole-fat dairy might prevent cardiovascular disease and death, "the authors themselves concluded, the results only suggest the 'consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged and perhaps even encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries.'"
Meaning, don't immediately buy into everything you read. In fact, maybe you should buy plant-based milk instead.
Related on Organic Authority