Turns Out Dairy Ain't Half Bad For Your Body

Written By BlabberBuzz | Wednesday, 17 November 2021 05:15
Most people would agree that sugar is terrible for your health. When it comes to fat, though, there has been a lot of heated discussions. We've been warned for decades that eating too much dairy, such as milk, butter, and cheese, can increase our risk of serious conditions like heart disease and strokes, only for more recent research to suggest that they may actually protect us from these by lowering our risk of developing high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. So, where does the truth lie, and why can't scientists agree on anything?

The high saturated fat content of dairy products is the main reason they are deemed unhealthy. Although our bodies require fats for energy, growth, and the absorption of fat-soluble minerals like vitamins A, D, and E, too much-saturated fat, in particular, can boost blood levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol. This can clog arteries, resulting in health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Saturated fats (found primarily in animal products such as dairy and meat) are heavier and more difficult for human bodies to digest than unsaturated fats (found in vegetables, nuts, and fish). Men should consume no more than 30 g of saturated fat per day, while women should consume no more than 20 g. A 200 mL glass of whole milk, on the other hand, has 7.4 g of fat, 4.8 g of which is saturated - about a quarter of a woman's daily saturated fat requirement. Butter contains roughly 80% fat in total and 50% saturated fat, equating to 5.2 grams of saturated fat per 10 grams of butter. While the overall fat content of cheese varies from 4% in cottage cheese to 35% in Stilton and 44% in mascarpone, a 30 g portion of Cheddar has approximately 6.6 g of saturated fat.

“Consuming saturated fats like those in dairy raises our blood cholesterol levels,’ Dr. Giles Yeo, principal research associate at Cambridge University's MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit and honorary president of the British Dietetic Association, agrees.. "We need cholesterol as it gives our cells structure — it’s what stops us from being a puddle on the floor — but too much of it causes arteries to harden, which leads to cardiovascular problems.” Scientists believe that persons from cultures that consume a lot of dairy, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and northern Europe, are at a little higher risk of early death, mainly from heart attacks and strokes, due to greater saturated fat consumption. However, the link between saturated fat and heart disease is unclear. While scientists believe that eating saturated fats boosts blood fat levels and may increase other risk factors for heart disease, such as inflammation, it is unclear whether it causes heart or cardiovascular problems directly. According to some academics, saturated fat has been unfairly maligned. Professor Arne Astrup of the Department of Nutrition exercise and sports at Copenhagen University, argues that focusing on saturated fat alone ‘does not make sense" as there are different types of saturated fatty acids that all have different effects on the body. ‘The effect is dependent on the food source it exists in — the effect of saturated fat is modified by all the other nutrients in the food,’ he wrote in 2019. In the case of dairy, it's true that multiple studies involving large groups of people have failed to discover a clear link between higher dairy consumption and an increased risk of heart disease. The other ingredients in dairy, such as calcium and specific fatty acids, are thought to interact together in the 'dairy matrix' to safeguard our cardiovascular health, according to one idea. Scientists haven't been able to figure out how this could operate yet. However, researchers from McMaster University in Canada observed decreased rates of death and cardiovascular illness in persons who were followed for nine years in a 2018 study of more than 135,000 people in 21 different nations.

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A study published in the journal PLoS Medicine in September looked at 4,000 60-year-olds in Sweden (where diets are typically high in dairy) and found that those who ate high levels were less likely to have heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular problems — but not any more likely to die than those who ate low levels. “A number of published studies suggest that, despite their saturated fat content, some dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt have a neutral or even positive effect on a person’s risk of heart and circulatory disease,’ Dietitian Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation agrees. ‘Studies have suggested that consuming dairy products is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are factors that increase the chances of a heart attack or stroke.”

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