by Julia Westbrook
High in fat, dairy has gotten a bad rap lately, but these experts share why you shouldn’t shy away from it.
Get it out of your head that dairy is a one-trick pony. Yes, this calcium-rich food group is the poster child for strong bones and healthy teeth, but dairy can do so much more for your health. (Just be sure you choose milk from grass-fed, organic cows. Organic milk has been scientifically proven to be much better for you.)
Hug Your Heart
Your heart loves dairy, according to research from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Studying 4,000 Taiwanese individuals, the researchers found that daily consumption of dairy helped optimize heart health. “We observed that increased dairy consumption meant lower risks of mortality from cardiovascular disease, especially stroke, but found no significant association with the risk of cancer,” says Mark Wahlqvist, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash.
“Those who ate no dairy had higher blood pressure, higher body mass index, and greater body fatness generally than other groups,” Dr. Wahlqvist says. “But Taiwanese who included dairy food in their diet only three to seven times a week were more likely to survive than those who ate none.”
Full-fat milk probably isn’t the first thing you’d reach for if you want to prevent diabetes, but maybe it should be, according to research from Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden. The researchers found that people who ate the most dairy (eight or more servings per day) had 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate one serving or less per day.
Interestingly, the high-fat dairy items had more of a protective effect than the low-fat ones. For instance, increasing daily intake of cream from 0.01 ounces to 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) was associated with a 15 percent risk reduction. However, there was no protective association found for low-fat dairy products.
Motivate Your Metabolism
Not only does dairy decrease your chances for diabetes, but it’s also beneficial for preventing other metabolic issues, including obesity, found Canadian researchers. Blood tests of Quebec City residents revealed that greater dairy consumption was related to lower blood pressure and lower fasting plasma glucose level (glycemia). The researchers attributed this to the naturally occurring trans-palmitoleic acid in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. The body cannot synthesize trans-palmitoleic acid, and higher blood levels of this fatty acid were associated with positive health benefits.
Want to take matters into your own hands? Try making your own healthy yogurt at home.