Saturated fats found in yoghurt, cheese, butter and milk do not increase the risk of heart disease, new research suggests.
Eating full-fat dairy actually reduces the risk of dying from stroke by 42 percent, a study found.
Lead author Dr Marcia Otto, from the University of Texas, Houston, said: ‘Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults.
‘In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.’
Dietary guidelines in the US and UK recommend people people opt for low or no-fat dairy, however, the researchers warn such options are often high in sugar, which can drive heart disease.
Milk, yoghurt and cheese contain nutrients such as calcium, which lowers blood pressure, as well as anti-inflammatory fatty acids.
‘Whole-fat dairy foods are rich sources of nutrients’
Dr Otto said: ‘Consistent with previous findings, our results highlight the need to revisit current dietary guidance on whole-fat dairy foods, which are rich sources of nutrients such as calcium and potassium.
‘These are essential for health not only during childhood but throughout life, particularly also in later years when undernourishment and conditions like osteoporosis are more common
‘Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats.
‘It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers, from the University of Texas, Houston, analysed nearly 3,000 adults aged over 65 for 22 years.
The participants’ plasma was assessed to determine different levels of fatty acids in 1992, and then again six and 13 years later.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Soya ‘milk’ is the healthiest alternative to cow’s
This comes after research released last January suggested soya ‘milk’ is the healthiest alternative to cow’s.
When analysing the four most popular non-dairy alternatives, soya was found to have the greatest nutritional profile due to its high levels of anti-cancer compounds, known as isoflavones, a study found.
Although trendy almond milk contains healthy fatty acids, which aid weight loss and lower so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol, other essential nutrients are lacking, the research adds.
Study author Sai Kranthi Vanga, a PhD student from McGill University, said: ‘Consumers associate these alternatives to be a direct substitute of cow’s milk which might not be true in all cases’.
Cow’s milk is the most common allergy affecting babies, with up to 3.5 percent of infants suffering, however, around 80 percent grow out of this by 16 years old.
12 July 2018