Along with carbs, sugar, and gluten, dairy is among the many food groups that have been historically maligned for being unhealthy. However, new research presented at the European Society of Cardiology may change the way you think about dairy products.
Researchers indicate that dairy has long been thought to increase the risk of death from conditions like coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer due to its high saturated fat content, according to a press release. Despite this belief, researchers have yet to find a consistent evidence of this link, with the exception of milk (they advise choosing non-fat or low-fat milk, especially if you drink it often). When it comes to dairy products like cheese and yogurt, they suggest that the current guidelines that limit the consumption of dairy products should be "relaxed."
Polish researcher Professor Maciej Banach presented on the topic, citing a meta-analysis of 29 studies, which found no association between consuming dairy products and developing a cardiovascular disease. Only a large 20-year study found that high consumption of milk was associated with double the risk of mortality compared to those who did not drink milk as frequently.
Banach and his own co-researchers examined data from a study of 24,474 adults that spanned from 1999 to 2010. From the 3520 deaths recorded, the researchers found that those who ate all dairy products were associated with a 2% lower risk of mortality and that cheese consumption was associated with an 8% lower risk of mortality. Another meta-analysis conducted by Banach of 12 additional studies confirmed these findings.
“In light of the protective effects of dairy products, public health officials should revise the guidelines on dairy consumption,” according to Banach. While it's unclear exactly how much dairy you should consume to keep your heart healthy and live longer, it seems that a good cheese plate every now and then couldn't hurt.