DAIRY consumption has been linked to a reduction in high blood pressure, factors contributing to heightened cardiovascular risk, and risk of diabetes according to a new study from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.
Past research has demonstrated a correlation between higher dairy intake and lower risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome; however, these studies were limited to North America and Europe. To assess whether these findings were applicable to more countries, the researchers assessed participants from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, which included individuals aged 35–70 years from 21 countries over five continents. The participants’ regular food intake was recorded using country-specific Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ), which recorded the number of times a participant consumed any specific item from a list of foods within a 1-year period. Milk, yoghurt, cheese, and dishes prepared with dairy products were classified as full or low-fat (1–2%) dairy products and butter and cream were assessed independently as they are not regularly eaten in some of the countries studied. The study also collected information on an individual’s medical history, prescription medication use, educational attainment, and measurements of weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure, and fasting glucose levels.
Metabolic syndrome was determined based on five component factors: i) elevated blood pressure (≥130/80 mmHg); ii) elevated waist circumference (women: >80 cm; men: >94 cm); iii) low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (women: <1.3 mmol/L; men: <1.0 mmol/L); iv) elevated blood triglycerides (1.7 mmol/dL); and v) elevated fasting blood glucose (≥5.5 mmol/L). Data were available for 112,922 participants and those displaying at least three of the five component factors were classified as having metabolic syndrome (n=46,667). Results further highlighted a minimum of two daily servings of total dairy were associated with a 24% lower risk of metabolic syndrome and a 28% lower risk was associated with full-fat dairy, compared with no daily dairy intake.
The 9-year follow-up revealed that higher consumption of dairy was associated with lower risk of onset diabetes and hypertension. This was particularly evident in those who consumed full-fat dairy compared to low-fat dairy. Although this was an observational study, the researchers noted that: “If our findings are confirmed in sufficiently large and long-term trials, then increasing dairy consumption may represent a feasible and low-cost approach to reducing [metabolic syndrome], hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately cardiovascular disease events worldwide.”