Eating cheese and yogurt was found to protect against mortality while whole milk may increase the risk of heart disease, according to analysis of several studies. (iStock)

Limits on dairy product consumption should be relaxed: study

Eating dairy products has been thought to increase the risk of death because of their high levels of fat, but analysis of several studies contradicts some of that. This research conducted at the Medical University of Lodz in Poland found no association between the consumption of dairy products and either cardiovascular disease or mortality by all causes. However, one of the studies examined, a Swedish study published in 2017, did find that higher consumption of milk was associated with a doubling of mortality risk in women.

Dr. Joshua Tepper of the University of Toronto says this tells us that diet is a complex issue but it yields some conclusions.

Dr. Joshua Tepper says research on diet is ongoing and can help governments update their official food guides.

Cheese, yogurt okay in moderation

“As a family doctor, I think it does give me more confidence to keep telling patients that they don’t always need to be choosing the zero-fat yogurt or the low-fat cheese, that in fact they can safely have, and in fact maybe should be encouraged to have if they wish, a little bit of fat within moderation in their diet,” says Dr. Joshua Tepper, a professor at the University of Toronto who was not involved in the study.

Based on the Swedish study, authors add that people who consume milk are advised to drink fat-free or low-fat milk.

Milk drinkers are advised to choose no-fat or low-fat milk based on one of the studies’ findings..

Canada’s Food Guide suggests adults have two or three servings of dairy product a day, and teens and children should more. It does not specify whether these should be mik or fermented products like cheese and yogurt.  The recommendation assumes people have no health, religious or ideological constraints against consuming dairy products.

While this study should not cause Canada’s Food Guide to change, Tepper says research on diet is ongoing and countries need to adapt their official food guides to reflect scientific findings.

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