Can Fermented Dairy Shield You Against Heart Disease?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Fermented dairy linked to lower risk

This research was part of the ongoing Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. In their current project, the scientists studied associations between incident CHD and the consumption of different types of dairy product.

The team analyzed the data of 1,981 men aged 42–60 years who joined the KIHD study in the years 1984–1989. None of the participants had CHD at baseline, and they all provided details on their dietary habits when they joined the project.

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Over an average follow-up period of 20 years, the participants reported 472 cardiovascular events relating to incident CHD.

To determine how the consumption of dairy products might influence the participants’ risk of CHD, the researchers divided them into different groups depending on their dietary intake of various fermented and non-fermented dairy foods.

Among the men who consumed fermented dairy products with less than 3.5 percent fat content, those in the highest consumption group had a 27 percent lower risk of CHD compared with those in the lowest consumption category.

The researchers also observed that the most widely consumed low-fat fermented dairy product was sour milk, and that eating high-fat fermented dairy foods, such as cheese, did not appear to sway CHD risk one way or the other.

Milk tied to higher risk of CHD

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At the same time, the team found that people who consumed a lot of non-fermented dairy products, of which regular milk had the greatest use, had a higher risk of incident CHD.

More specifically, those who had a very high intake — referring to an average of 0.9 liters of milk per day — were the most vulnerable to heart disease.

However, there was no association between low consumption of non-fermented dairy products and a heightened risk of CHD.

“For instance, the consumption of milk and sour milk have declined, while many fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, quark, and cheeses, have gained in popularity.”

Although the researchers cannot yet confirm the underlying mechanisms that are possibly at play in these associations, they speculate that certain compounds that form during the fermentation of milk-derived products may have a protective cardiovascular effect.

Read more on: fermented, dairy, against, heart


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