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Dairy food products: good or bad for cardiometabolic disease?

  • Julie A. Lovegrove (a1) (a2) (a3) and D. Ian Givens (a2) (a3)

Prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is rapidly increasingly and is a key risk for CVD development, now recognised as the leading cause of death globally. Dietary strategies to reduce CVD development include reduction of saturated fat intake. Milk and dairy products are the largest contributors to dietary saturated fats in the UK and reduced consumption is often recommended as a strategy for risk reduction. However, overall evidence from prospective cohort studies does not confirm a detrimental association between dairy product consumption and CVD risk. The present review critically evaluates the current evidence on the association between milk and dairy products and risk of CVD, T2DM and the metabolic syndrome (collectively, cardiometabolic disease). The effects of total and individual dairy foods on cardiometabolic risk factors and new information on the effects of the food matrix on reducing fat digestion are also reviewed. It is concluded that a policy to lower SFA intake by reducing dairy food consumption to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk is likely to have limited or possibly negative effects. There remain many uncertainties, including differential effects of different dairy products and those of differing fat content. Focused and suitably designed and powered studies are needed to provide clearer evidence not only of the mechanisms involved, but how they may be beneficially influenced during milk production and processing.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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* Corresponding author: Professor D. I. Givens,
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Nutrition Research Reviews
  • ISSN: 0954-4224
  • EISSN: 1475-2700
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