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Dairy research reveals health benefits of dairy

Posted Dec 15 2010 12:00am

Drinking three glasses of milk per day may lead to an 18 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study to be published in the January 2011 edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research on dairy and heart health, conducted at Wageningen and Harvard Universities, examined 17 studies from Europe, USA and Japan, also found no link between the consumption of regular whole milk or low-fat dairy and any increased risk of heart disease, stroke or total mortality.

“Milk and dairy are the most nutritious and healthy foods available and loaded with naturally occurring nutrients, such as calcium, potassium and protein, to name a few,” said Dr. Cindy Schweitzer, Technical Director, Global Dairy Platform. “It’s about going back to the basics; maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a scientific equation.”

According to Dr. Schweitzer, during the past three decades as research sought to understand influencers of cardiovascular disease, simplified dietary advice including consuming only low fat dairy products emerged. However, in 2010 alone, a significant amount of new research was published from all over the world, supporting the health benefits of dairy.

From dispelling the myth that dairy causes heart disease, to revealing dairy’s weight loss benefits, below is a 2010 roundup of select dairy research:

• US researchers examined 21 studies that included data from nearly 350,000 people and concluded that dietary intakes of saturated fats are not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. The study was published in the January edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

• A study published in the February American Journal of Epidemiology examined 23,366 Swedish men and revealed that intakes of calcium above the recommended daily levels may reduce the risk of mortality from heart disease and cancer by 25 percent.

• An Australian study published in the April European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that overall intake of dairy products was not associated with mortality. The 16-year prospective study of 1,529 Australian adults found that people who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death than those who ate the least.

• A Danish study published in the April edition of Physiology & Behavior concluded that an inadequate calcium intake during an energy restricted weight loss program may trigger hunger and impair compliance to the diet.

• In September, an Israeli study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a higher dairy calcium intake is related to greater diet-induced weight loss. The study, which sampled more than 300 overweight men and women during two years, revealed that those with the highest dairy calcium intake lost 38 percent more weight than those with the lowest dairy calcium intake.

The amount of dairy recommended per day varies by country and is generally based on nutrition needs and food availability. “In the US and some European countries, three servings of dairy foods are recommended daily, said Dr. Schweitzer” (Courtesy of EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS).

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