Dairy Fat Inversely Associated with a First Heart Attack

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Swedish researchers were trying to prove that saturated fat from dairy1 was linked to a first heart attack.  Instead, they proved just the opposite.  Once again the saturated fat theory of heart disease takes another tumble.

I have pointed out on numerous occasions that saturated fat by itself cannot possibly be the cause of heart disease.  When saturated fat is consumed as part of a balanced diet and not in excess, is accompanied by dietary/supplemental DHA, and there is adequate dietary fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, then there is no concern about saturated fat.  In fact, saturated fat is a superior source of energy from food.

On the contrary, a diet high in saturated fat, high in refined sugar/high fructose corn syrup, high in junk fat (potato chips, French fries, etc.) and low in fiber is deadly.  Unfortunately, millions of Americans are addicted to such a dietary pattern.

The current study examined 444 cases of a first heart attack and compared them to 555 matched controls, taken from a very large population database.  Researchers analyzed the amount of dairy fat present in the blood.  Especially in women, but also in men, the amount of diary fat was inversely associated with the risk of a first heart attack (26% reduction in women, 9% reduction in men).  Dietary questionnaires revealed that fermented milk products (yogurt and kefer) and cheese were the most protective.

In Europe cows still eat grass and therefore have omega 3 DHA in the dairy products.  There is much more of an emphasis on quality dairy products, including cheese production.  Certainly Americans can purchase European cheese or higher quality American-produced cheese or higher quality organic fermented dairy products.  Unfortunately, the great majority of dairy products consumed in America are poor quality and the benefits seen in this study are not likely to transfer to those eating lower-quality dairy.

In my recent article, Vitamin K2: Bones, Cardiovascular Health, Blood Sugar Control & Cancer Prevention, I point out that cheese is the primary source of vitamin K2 in the diet and this mechanism alone is associated with less cardiovascular disease. 

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Dairy Fat and the Risk of a First Heart Attack  Am J Clin Nutr   Eva Warensjö, Jan-Håkan Jansson, Tommy Cederholm, Kurt Boman, Mats Eliasson, Göran Hallmans, Ingegerd Johansson, and Per Sjögren

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