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Back to Symposium 2016

Dairy and cardiometabolic health

Canadian and American dietary guidelines recommend the consumption of low-fat dairy products. The main argument supporting this recommendation is that high plasma LDL-cholesterol levels are a key risk factor for coronary heart disease and that high-fat dairy products are a major source of cholesterol-raising saturated fatty acids. However, because accumulating evidence suggests that high-fat dairy product consumption is not  detrimentally associated with cardiovascular health, the focus on low-fat dairy products is being challenged which creates confusion amongst health professionals and the public.

A systematic-review of the association between dairy consumption and cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes, namely cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, was conducted. The impact of dairy product and dairy fat consumption on cardiometabolic risk factors was also comprehensively reviewed. Data from epidemiological and clinical studies indicates that consumption of dairy products, in various forms, is either beneficial  or neutral with respect to the association with cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes and has no apparent harmful effects on cardiometabolic risk factors.

Important research gaps were identified regarding the consumption of low-fat dairy products. Nonetheless, the focus on low-fat dairy in dietary guidelines is not entirely supported by existing evidence.

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