Turns out, dairy consumption can lower the rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality, compared to lower levels of consumption.
According to a global observational study, people who consumed three servings of whole fat dairy per day had lower rates of mortality and cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed less than 0.5 serving of whole fat dairy per day.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. The authors conclude 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.
Lead author Dr. Mahshid Dehghan said, "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."
The authors say that more research into why dairy might be associated with lower levels of 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.
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 and calcium.
The effect of dairy on cardiovascular health should, therefore, consider the net effect on health outcomes of all these elements.
Limitations include that diets were self-reported. While multiple weighted food records may be more accurate, they require extensive training, motivation, awareness, and literacy which limits the practicality for such a large long-term study.
The authors also note that diet was measured at baseline and that changes in diet may have occurred over time.
The full findings are present in the journal- The Lancet.