A recent study, using data from 80 countries, has revealed that including up to two servings of dairy, particularly whole-fat, in a healthy diet can offer protection against high blood pressure and metabolic disorders.
The research, published in the European Heart Journal, found that diets emphasizing the consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole-fat dairy, nuts, legumes, and fish were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death across all regions of the world.
Interestingly, the study showed that the addition of unprocessed red meat or whole grains had minimal impact on health outcomes.
Contrary to popular belief, low-fat foods do not necessarily lead to better health. The focus on reducing fat and saturated fat in nutrition labels has overshadowed the potential benefits of whole-fat dairy, according to the researchers.
Lead author Andrew Mente from McMaster University in Canada commented, “Our findings suggest that instead of restricting dairy, especially whole-fat, to very low amounts, we should prioritize increasing the consumption of protective foods like nuts, fish, and dairy, particularly whole-fat.”
Mente further added, “Our study supports the inclusion of up to two servings a day of dairy, mainly whole-fat, in a healthy diet. Modern nutrition science has shown that dairy, especially whole-fat, may protect against high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.”
To conduct the study, researchers examined the relationship between a new diet score and health outcomes in a global population. The diet score was based on six foods that have previously been linked to longevity.
The study included 147,642 individuals from 21 countries and explored the association between the diet score and mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke, and total CVD, including fatal events and non-fatal heart failure, among other outcomes.
After a median follow-up of 9.3 years, the researchers noted 15,707 deaths and 40,764 cardiovascular events.
Compared to the least healthy diet, the healthiest diet was linked to a 30% lower risk of death, an 18% lower likelihood of CVD, a 14% lower risk of myocardial infarction, and a 19% lower risk of stroke, the study revealed.
The associations between the healthy diet score and outcomes were validated in five other independent studies involving a total of 96,955 patients with CVD from 70 countries. This study stands out as the most diverse examination of nutrition and health outcomes worldwide, encompassing high-, middle-, and low-income countries,” explained Mente.
Mente further noted, “The strongest associations were observed in regions with the poorest quality diets, including South Asia, China, and Africa, where calorie intake was low and mainly consisted of refined carbohydrates.”
Professor Salim Yusuf, the senior author and principal investigator of the study, highlighted that “a large proportion of deaths and CVD cases globally may be attributed to undernutrition, characterized by low energy intake and inadequate consumption of protective foods, rather than overnutrition.”
Dariush Mozaffarian from Tufts University in the US supported the new findings and emphasized the need for a reconsideration of guidelines promoting the avoidance of whole-fat dairy products.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)
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