Consumption of dairy products is encouraged by public health authorities and recommended in dietary guidelines worldwide to ensure optimal nutrition.
Dairy products, particularly full fat varieties are often criticised for their saturated fat content. However, the impact of dairy products on cardiovascular risk has been overestimated.
While there is an ongoing scientific debate about the health effects of saturated fat, it’s important to remember we don’t consume it in isolation, we consume foods. Foods vary in their nutrition composition and therefore their effect on health. Milk, cheese and yoghurt for example contain nutrients such as potassium and calcium that support a healthy heart.
Recent studies suggest dairy product consumption, including full-fat options, do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the context of a balanced diet (1, 2).
In some cases dairy products have been found to improve heart health. Evidence also suggests cheese consumption is associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke (1, 2).
Dairy product consumption is not associated with or may even be protective for related conditions such as high blood pressure (3, 4), type 2 diabetes (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and obesity (10, 11).
Recent evidence does not suggest that butter, if consumed in moderation, significantly affects cardiovascular risk (12, 13).
This means that the goodness of dairy – including full fat varieties - can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet without increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease in a healthy population.
Enjoying a balanced diet
Dairy products should be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet based on nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese and yoghurt), wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds and other lean protein sources. Nutritious dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are nutrient dense and three servings a day as part of a balanced diet can help us to get the nutrients we need from food. Energy dense products such as butter, cream and ice cream can still be a part of a healthy diet but should be consumed less frequently and in smaller quantities.
Fonterra provides a range of product options with different nutrition profiles (including full fat and reduced or low fat varieties) to meet different consumer preferences. Check the label and choose the product that is right for the occasion, whether it be for the everyday goodness of dairy, or an occasional indulgence.
Dairy products should be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle with a varied, balanced diet and regular physical activity.
- Alexander DD, Bylsma LC, Vargas AJ et al. (2016) Dairy consumption and CVD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brit J Nutr 115:737-750.
- Qin LQ, Xu JY, Han SF et al. (2015) Dairy consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: an updated meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 24(1):90-100.
- Soedamah-Muthu SS,Verberne LDM, Ding EL, Engberink MF, Geleijnse JM. (2012) Dairy Consumption and Incidence of Hypertension : A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Hypertension, published online September 17, 2012.
- Ralston RA, Lee JH, Truby H, Palermo CE, Walker KZ. (2012) A systematic review and metaanalysis of elevated blood pressure and consumption of dairy foods. Journal of Human Hypertension 26, 3–13.
- Aune D, Norat T, Romundstad P, Vatten LJ. (2013) Dairy products and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr;98:1066–83.
- Kalergis M, Yinko SSLL, Nedelcu R. (2013) Dairy Products and prevention of type 2 diabetes implications for research and practice. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 23 July 2013 doi: 10.3389/fendo.2013.00090.
- Sabita S. Soedamah-Muthu, Gabriel Masset, Lisa Verberne, Johanna M. Geleijnse and Eric J. Brunner. (2012) Consumption of dairy products and associations with incident diabetes,CHD and mortality in the Whitehall II study. Br J Nutr 2012. doi:10.1017/S0007114512001845.
- Grantham N, Magliano DJ, Hodge A, Jowett J, Meikle P, Shaw JE. (2012) The association between dairy food intake and the incidence of diabetes in Australia: the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Public Health Nutrition. 2012. doi:10.1017/S1368980012001310.
- Tong X, Dong J-Y, Wu Z-W, Li W and Qin L-Q. (2011) Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 65:1027-31.
- Louie JC, Flood VM, Hector DJ, Rangan AM, Gill TP. (2011) Dairy consumption and overweight and obesity: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies. Obes Rev 2011;12:e582–92.
- Kratz M, Baars T, Guyenet S (2013) The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. Eur J Nutr 52(1):1-24.
- Elwood PC , Pickering JE, Givens DI, Gallacher JE (2010) The consumption of milk and dairy foods and the incidence of vascular disease and diabetes: an overview of the evidence. Lipids 45, 925-39.
- Pimpin L, Wu JHY, Haskelberg H et al. (2016) Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality. PLOS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158118.
- Jakobsen MU, O'Reilly EJ, Heitmann BL et al. (2009) Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 89:1425-1432.
- Hooper L, Martin N, Abdelhamid A, Davey Smith G (2015) Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 6. Art. No.:CD011737.
- Hu F B (2010). Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? Am J Clin Nutr 91(6):1541-1542.