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Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;105(5):1033-1045. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.151548. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

Whole dairy matrix or single nutrients in assessment of health effects: current evidence and knowledge gaps.

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Departments of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and.
Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Aarslev, Denmark.
Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.
Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Science and Technology of Milk and Eggs, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Rennes, France.
Food for Health Ireland, Science Center South, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Institut Pasteur de Lille, Lille, France.
School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom.
Université de Lyon, Cardiovasculaire Métabolisme Diabétologie et Nutrition (CarMeN) Laboratory, INRA Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR) 1397, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), U1060, Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA-Lyon), Institut Multidisciplinaire de Biochimie des Lipides (IMBI), Villeurbanne, France.
Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine Rhône-Alpes (CRNH-RA), Centre Européen pour la Nutrition et la Santé (CENS), Oullins, France.
INRA, Université d'Auvergne, UMR 1019, Unité de Nutrition Humaine (UNH), Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; and.
Departments of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and
Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.


Foods consist of a large number of different nutrients that are contained in a complex structure. The nature of the food structure and the nutrients therein (i.e., the food matrix) will determine the nutrient digestion and absorption, thereby altering the overall nutritional properties of the food. Thus, the food matrix may exhibit a different relation with health indicators compared to single nutrients studied in isolation. The evidence for a dairy matrix effect was presented and discussed by an expert panel at a closed workshop, and the following consensus was reached: 1) Current evidence does not support a positive association between intake of dairy products and risk of cardiovascular disease (i.e., stroke and coronary heart disease) and type 2 diabetes. In contrast, fermented dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, generally show inverse associations. 2) Intervention studies have indicated that the metabolic effects of whole dairy may be different than those of single dairy constituents when considering the effects on body weight, cardiometabolic disease risk, and bone health. 3) Different dairy products seem to be distinctly linked to health effects and disease risk markers. 4) Different dairy structures and common processing methods may enhance interactions between nutrients in the dairy matrix, which may modify the metabolic effects of dairy consumption. 5) In conclusion, the nutritional values of dairy products should not be considered equivalent to their nutrient contents but, rather, be considered on the basis of the biofunctionality of the nutrients within dairy food structures. 6) Further research on the health effects of whole dairy foods is warranted alongside the more traditional approach of studying the health effects of single nutrients. Future diet assessments and recommendations should carefully consider the evidence of the effects of whole foods alongside the evidence of the effects of individual nutrients. Current knowledge gaps and recommendations for priorities in future research on dairy were identified and presented.


MFGM; bioavailability; blood lipids; calcium; dairy nutrients; dairy protein; dairy structure; fermented dairy; phosphorous; whole dairy

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