“The consumption of dairy products has long been thought to increase the risk of death, particularly from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer, because of dairy’s relatively high levels of saturated fat,” the researchers said in a press release. “Yet evidence for any such link, especially among US adults, is inconsistent.”
Rather, the wide-ranging study that considered survey results from 24,474 U.S. adults over six years found that there was “no association” with cheese or yogurt and cardiovascular problems, and that the dairy products were actually protective, with the exception of whole milk.
“Dairy products have been found to protect against both total mortality and mortality from cerebrovascular causes,” the researchers said. “Therefore, current guidelines to limit consumption of dairy products, especially cheese and yogurt, should be relaxed; at the same time, the drinking of non-fat or low-fat milk should be recommended, especially for those who consume large quantities of milk.”
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The researchers found that, based on the survey, those who ate cheese had an 8 percent lower total mortality risk, and those who ate any dairy had a 2 percent lower total mortality risk.
They confirmed the results with a meta-analysis of 12 additional studies that included a total of 636,726 participants, who were tracked for 15 years
The study leader, Professor Maciej Banach, from the Department of Hypertension at Medical University of Lodz, Poland, said that their research shows that nutritional guidelines should be revamped.
“In light of the protective effects of dairy products, public health officials should revise the guidelines on dairy consumption,” he said. “And given the evidence that milk increases the risk of [coronary heart disease], it is advisable to drink fat-free or low-fat milk.”