Astrup A. - 45311 N - Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ; 99(5) : 1235S-1242S.
Dairy products contribute important nutrients to our diet, including energy, calcium, protein, and other micro- and macronutrients. However, dairy products can be high in saturated fats, and dietary guidelines generally recommend reducing the intake of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) to reduce coronary artery disease (CAD). Recent studies question the role of SFAs in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have found that substitution of SFAs in the diet with omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids abundant in vegetable oils can, in fact, lead to an increased risk of death from CAD and CVD, unless they are balanced with n-3 polyunsaturated fat. Replacing SFAs with carbohydrates with a high glycemic index is also associated with a higher risk of CAD. Paradoxically, observational studies indicate that the consumption of milk or dairy products is inversely related to incidence of CVD. The consumption of dairy products has been suggested to ameliorate characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, which encompasses a cluster of risk factors including dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, and abdominal obesity, which together markedly increase the risk of diabetes and CVD. Dairy products, such as cheese, do not exert the negative effects on blood lipids as predicted solely by the content of saturated fat. Calcium and other bioactive components may modify the effects on LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Apart from supplying valuable dairy nutrients, yogurt may also exert beneficial probiotic effects. The consumption of yogurt, and other dairy products, in observational studies is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain and obesity as well as of CVD, and these findings are, in part, supported by randomized trials.