What if the food advice we know is wrong? Swedish research finds dairy fat can be good for us

An item on RNZ’s Sunday Morning drew attention to  new Swedish research among the world ‘s biggest consumers of dairy fat and the health effects.

The RNZ item addressed a raft of beliefs about food. It said:

Saturated fat is bad for your heart. We should eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Forget salt. Eat no more than two eggs a day…

These are just a few of the myriad food rules we are encouraged to abide by each and every day. But how many of these common health advice rules are backed by science? And which of them are bunkum?

A new study out of Sweden says decades of official dairy wisdom is incorrect, suggesting dairy fats can actually protect us against heart attack and stroke. Dr Ali Hill is a Registered Nutritionist and Professional Practice Fellow in the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago. She runs the rule over some of the most well-known food myths that are out there.

Listen duration16′ :37″

The Swedish research amongst the world’s biggest consumers of dairy foods shows that those with higher intakes of dairy fat — measured by levels of fatty acids in the blood — had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with low intakes. Higher intakes of dairy fat were not associated with an increased risk of death. Continue reading

Health benefits found in whole milk and full-fat dairy products

Researchers at Tufts University have found people who eat full-fat dairy products are less likely to develop diabetes than those who grimly consume low-fat (and low-pleasure) dairy alternatives (see here). 

Led by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the research team looked at circulating blood biomarkers and 15 years of data for 3,333 adults participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The team discovered participants with the highest levels of dairy fat in their blood had up to 46 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes over the 15-year span compared to those who had the lowest levels of dairy fats in their blood.

“There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy,” Mozaffarian told Time Magazine.

Mozaffarian and his colleagues discovered the connection between eating full-fat dairy and a lower risk of diabetes still held, regardless of any weight gains or losses.

He says his results are preliminary and should not yet be taken as dietary advice.

Prior to this, he published a review of dietary priorities where he suggested the rapid advance of nutrition and policy science has created “confusion.”

Among the themes he emphasises in the review is the importance of “recognising the complex influences of different foods on long-term weight regulation, rather than simply counting calories.”