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Yogurt protects against heart attack, milk does not

Yogurt protects against heart attack, milk does not
The more low-fat yogurt, low-fat quark and buttermilk you consume, the less likely you are to have a heart condition - and the less likely you will die as a result of a heart attack. This appears from an epidemiological study that Finnish nutrition scientists have published in the British Journal of Nutrition. However, a hefty intake of non-fermented dairy increases your chance of a heart attack.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland used the data from 1981 men who had participated in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. When the study started, the men were aged 42-60 years and free from cardiovascular disease. The researchers had followed them for more than 20 years.

The researchers knew how many dairy products such as milk, yogurt, buttermilk and butter the men consumed. On the basis of this intake they divided the men into 4 equally large groups [Quartiles; Q].

The intake of dairy in general did not affect heart health, but when the researchers made a distinction between fermented and non-fermented dairy, they found effects. Fermented dairy reduced the risk of cardiovascual heart disease, while a high intake of non-fermented dairy increased that risk.

Yogurt protects against heart attack, milk does not

Yogurt protects against heart attack, milk does not

The chance of mortality due to a heart attack was smaller as the men consumed more fermented dairy, as the figure shows. That chance was actually greater as the men consumed more non-fermented dairy.

When the researchers made a distinction between fermented dairy with a lot of fat, such as cheese, and low-fat fermented dairy products, such as buttermilk, low-fat yoghurt and low-fat curd, they only found a protective effect of the latter category.

Yogurt protects against heart attack, milk does not

"To conclude, we found that high intakes of fermented and especially low-fat fermented dairy products had an inverse association with the risk of coronary heart disease, whereas very high intakes of non-fermented dairy products and milk were associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease", summarize the researchers.

"These findings suggest that fermentation could be one key element affecting the associations between different dairy products and the development of coronary heart disease."

Br J Nutr. 2018 Oct 29:1-10. doi: 10.1017/S0007114518002830. [Epub ahead of print].

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