Ballard KD, Bruno RS - 46662 N - Nutr Rev 2015 ; 73(1) : 36-50

Protective role of dairy and its constituents on vascular function independent of blood pressure-lowering activities

Greater intakes of dairy are frequently associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. These observational studies have served as the basis for controlled interventions aimed at defining the cardioprotective mechanisms of dairy. Understanding these relationships is of public health importance because most of the US population fails to meet dietary recommendations for dairy, suggesting that many individuals could lower their cardiovascular disease risk by relatively simple dietary modification. Clinical studies investigating the acute ingestion of dairy or its constituents, including short-term (</=2 week) supplementation studies or those assessing postprandial responses, have largely shown benefits on vascular function without concomitant improvements in blood pressure. Chronic interventions have been less conclusive, with some showing benefits and others indicating a lack of improvement in vascular function regardless of blood pressure changes. Vasoprotective activities of dairy are likely mediated through improvements in nitric oxide bioavailability, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Future controlled studies are needed to determine if these health benefits are mediated directly by dairy or indirectly by displacing other dietary components that otherwise impair vascular health.