Adding Dairy Products To Med Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

The study also found that adding several servings of low-fat dairy to the MedDiet provides increased nutritional benefits.

Apr. 8, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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A new study pub­lished by the National Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­ogy Infor­ma­tion (NCBI) con­cluded that sup­ple­ment­ing the Mediter­ranean diet with mod­er­ate amounts of dairy pro­duce could sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the risk of heart dis­ease and boost cal­cium intake.

The study which exam­ined the health ben­e­fits of adding dairy foods in line with rec­om­men­da­tions from the Aus­tralian Dietary Guide­lines (Med­Dairy) was car­ried out by researchers from the Uni­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia and revealed there were real health ben­e­fits to sup­ple­ment­ing a Mediter­ranean diet with dairy pro­duce.

Dairy foods are impor­tant for our bone health and can also improve heart health when con­sumed as part of a healthy dietary pat­tern such as the Mediter­ranean diet.- Alexan­dra Wade, researcher

Dairy foods are vital sources of dietary cal­cium, amino acids, pro­teins, vit­a­mins and min­er­als,” lead researcher Alexan­dra Wade told Olive Oil Times. Dairy foods are impor­tant for our bone health and can also improve heart health when con­sumed as part of a healthy dietary pat­tern such as the Mediter­ranean diet. Depend­ing on your age and gen­der, aim to enjoy between two and four serv­ings of low-fat and reg­u­lar-fat dairy foods each day.”

The study fol­lowed 41 vol­un­teers between 45 and 75 years old, who were at risk of heart dis­ease. The vol­un­teers were ran­domly split into two groups. For eight weeks of the trial, one group ate a typ­i­cal Mediter­ranean diet sup­ple­mented with dairy pro­duce. For the same eight week period the sec­ond group ate a low-fat diet and dur­ing the final eight weeks of the study both groups resumed their nor­mal diets.

See more: Health News

It was found that par­tic­i­pants fol­low­ing the Med­Dairy diet had sig­nif­i­cantly lower morn­ing blood pres­sure rates, higher good cho­les­terol lev­els, and lower over­all cho­les­terol. Wade said that she was not sur­prised by the results.


We had hoped that we would find pos­i­tive health ben­e­fits asso­ci­ated with our trial. We know that the Mediter­ranean diet is linked to reduced risk of chronic dis­ease,” she said. Dairy foods have been asso­ci­ated with improved car­diometa­bolic health, but other find­ings are mixed. So for us to find improve­ments in car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk fac­tors is a great out­come for our study pop­u­la­tion.”

Based on the results of the study Wade advised fol­low­ing the Mediter­ranean diet and eat­ing a lot of fresh, plant-based food, sup­ple­ment­ing this with a few serv­ings of dairy each day.

Try to incor­po­rate more leafy veg­eta­bles, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish into your diet each day,” she said. Use extra vir­gin olive oil as your main culi­nary fat for cook­ing, salad dress­ings and spreads. Aim for three to four serv­ings of dairy foods each day. Be mind­ful of what you are eat­ing, watch your por­tion sizes and try to min­i­mize energy-dense dis­cre­tionary foods which are high in added sug­ars, salt and sat­u­rated fats.”

Whilst the Mediter­ranean diet enjoys a rep­u­ta­tion for being one of the wold’s health­i­est diets, dairy prod­ucts fell out of favor due to their high sat­u­rated fat con­tent. How­ever it has recently emerged that not all sat­u­rated fats are linked with rais­ing bad cho­les­terol lev­els, clog­ging arter­ies and lead­ing to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

A study pub­lished ear­lier this year sug­gested that the source of sat­u­rated fats made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to their health impli­ca­tions. The researchers con­cluded that whilst sat­u­rated fats from meat increased car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk, sat­u­rated fats from dairy prod­ucts actu­ally helped to ward off heart dis­ease.

Haley Hughes from RDRx Nutri­tion is another firm advo­cate of the Med­Dairy diet and told Olive Oil Times that fol­low­ing a Mediter­ranean diet while includ­ing some low-fat dairy pro­vides great nutri­tional ben­e­fits.

Choos­ing to add low-fat dairy to a Mediter­ranean diet would increase cal­cium, potas­sium, vit­a­min D and pro­tein which could lead to many health ben­e­fits,” she said. Cal­cium has been linked to improv­ing bone mass, potas­sium to main­tain­ing blood pres­sure and Vit­a­min D sup­ports mul­ti­ple body func­tions. By choos­ing to add low fat dairy ver­sus. high fat dairy you would be elim­i­nat­ing most sat­u­rated fat and cho­les­terol, known as the bad fats.”

The Med­Dairy diet could also be ben­e­fi­cial in improv­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal well-being accord­ing to another study also pub­lished by NCBI.

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