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Nutr Bull. 2014 Jun;39(2):161-171.

Dairy and cardiovascular health: Friend or foe?

Author information

1
Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition and Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR), Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading UK.
2
Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition and Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR), Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading UK ; Food Production and Quality Research Division, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Reading UK.
3
Food Production and Quality Research Division, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Reading UK.

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevalence at a global level is predicted to increase substantially over the next decade due to the increasing ageing population and incidence of obesity. Hence, there is an urgent requirement to focus on modifiable contributors to CVD risk, including a high dietary intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA). As an important source of SFA in the UK diet, milk and dairy products are often targeted for SFA reduction. The current paper acknowledges that milk is a complex food and that simply focusing on the link between SFA and CVD risk overlooks the other beneficial nutrients of dairy foods. The body of existing prospective evidence exploring the impact of milk and dairy consumption on risk factors for CVD is reviewed. The current paper highlights that high milk consumption may be beneficial to cardiovascular health, while illustrating that the evidence is less clear for cheese and butter intake. The option of manipulating the fatty acid profile of ruminant milk is discussed as a potential dietary strategy for lowering SFA intake at a population level. The review highlights that there is a necessity to perform more well-controlled human intervention-based research that provides a more holistic evaluation of fat-reduced and fat-modified dairy consumption on CVD risk factors including vascular function, arterial stiffness, postprandial lipaemia and markers of inflammation. Additionally, further research is required to investigate the impact of different dairy products and the effect of the specific food matrix on CVD development.

KEYWORDS:

arterial stiffness; blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; dairy products; milk; saturated fatty acids

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