For decades, mainstream doctors warned us to stay away from fatty dairy products. Butter, whole milk, and cheese would clog our arteries, they said.
So those of us worried about heart disease opted for skim milk, if we drank milk at all. And we chose other low-fat dairy products whenever possible.
In recent years, researchers have started to question this conventional “wisdom.”
In 2015, a major analysis of high-quality clinical trials found no evidence that eating low-fat food cuts the risk of heart disease.
Now, new research goes further.
Not only does it show that full-fat dairy products don’t cause heart disease, it found that they actually prevent it.
The huge study was published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes and Research Care. Researchers analyzed data from 147,812 people in 21 countries. They looked at their diet and medical history over nine years.
The study showed that consuming at least two servings of full-fat dairy per day was linked with a 28% lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Low-fat dairy didn’t lower the risk at all.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and belly fat. If you have three or more of these symptoms, you likely have metabolic syndrome. It increases your risk of heart disease fourfold. And makes you 30 times more likely to develop diabetes.
Two daily servings of any dairy product were associated with a 12% lower risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. But the benefits were stronger with high-fat dairy.
Dr. Andrew Mente was a study co-author. He said that “dairy foods and dairy fat provide high-quality protein and a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B-12, and riboflavin.”
He and his colleagues believe dairy consumption could be a “feasible and low-cost approach” for fighting conditions related to heart disease…metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The Healthiest Dairy Foods
Choose organic dairy whenever you can. And follow the findings of the study by consuming at least two servings of full-fat dairy a day.
Not all dairy is created equal. Here are the best choices:
Milk. Buy organic whole milk. It comes from pasture-raised cows free of growth hormones, pesticides, and other toxins.
If you can find raw, unpasteurized milk at your local farmer’s market, buy it. It has high levels of beneficial enzymes.
Butter. Never buy margarine. It contains emulsifiers to make it look more appealing. These compounds have been linked to colitis, diabetes, and cancer. Buy organic butter. It comes from cows that are free of chemicals and growth hormones.
Yogurt. Check the ingredients. Many are packed with added sugar. We recommend Icelandic or Greek Yogurt. Both are high in probiotics and protein, and low in sugar.
Cheese. Look for the shortest ingredient list. Never buy processed cheeses. They are loaded with chemical preservatives and bad fats.
The bottom line?
Eat full-fat dairy products without guilt. Not only do they taste better, but they are better for your heart.
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