Consuming full-fat version of milk, yoghurt and cheese, does not increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to new research that challenges the widely held belief that dairy products can damage health.
“There’s been a lot of publicity over the last five to 10 years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don’t,” Ian Givens, professor of food chain nutrition at Reading University, told The Guardian newspaper.
Pregnant women who drank too little milk could be increasing the risk of their child having neuro-developmental difficulties, which could affect their cognitive abilities and stunt their growth, Givens added.
According to the media reports, scientists at the University of Reading in the UK conducted the largest analysis of population cohort studies, representing almost a million participants and over 93,000 deaths. Their analysis found that cheese consumption was not associated with increased body fat. Nor was it linked to high amounts of LDL cholesterol. In fact, the studies including 938,465 participants suggest fermented dairy products may even potentially slightly lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The paper was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. The research was part-funded by the three pro-dairy groups – Global Dairy Platform, Dairy Research Institute and Dairy Australia – but they had no influence over it, the paper said. Givens is an adviser to the Food Standards Agency.