Written by Emily Kuehner.
Produced for online by Maudy Veltema.
Consumption of full fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt do not increase risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a new UK study that contradicts many years of broadly held belief.
Professionals from UK and European universities analysed 29 studies involving more than 900.000 participants from around the world.
Reading University Professor of Food Chain Nutrition Ian Givens says there is a widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products can be bad for your health.
Dr Givens says he is confident the results are robust and accurate because the meta-analysis included a remarkably large number of participants.
He says there has been a lot of publicity over the past 10 years about how saturated fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but he declares this research proves otherwise.
Dairy Australia spokesperson Blake Robertson says the new research adds to already existing evidence suggesting Australians should feel comfortable about eating more milk, cheese and yoghurt.
“About 9 out of 10 Australians aren’t eating enough from that dairy food group,” he says.
Heart Foundation National Nutrition spokesperson Beth Meerten urges Australians to consider the research as part of a bigger picture.
She says research shows food can either reduce, increase or do nothing to the risk of heart disease.
“This study is suggesting that milk, cheese and yoghurt fit into that third category and are not really doing too much to the risk of heart disease,” she says.
She stresses the study is focusing on core dairy foods and is not recommending people to eat more dairy foods such as butter or ice cream.
Clinical dietitian Erika Harman agrees Australians must continue to monitor their diet and says looking at one particular food group is not including the complete picture.
“Only healthy dieting, being overweight, being inactive, high intake of alcohol, all of those things contribute to increased risk of heart disease,” she says.