Milk and dairy foods may prevent chronic diseases, study finds

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In a study originating from the University of Granada, a spotlight has been cast upon milk and dairy products, illuminating their potential to confer numerous health benefits and possibly prevent an array of chronic diseases.

Scientists, including Angel Gil and Rosa Ortega, navigated through the extensive scientific data to evaluate the impact of dairy intake on various health parameters and chronic diseases.

Nutritional Powerhouses: Dairy Products

Milk and dairy items bring a plethora of nutrients to the table, including protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, and various vitamins like A, riboflavin, B-12, and pantothenic acid.

Despite their nutritional richness, dairy consumption has been observing a downtrend, drifting away from recommended levels in numerous countries, sparking concerns and debates regarding their health impacts.

Dairy and Health: Sifting through the Data

In the study, published in Advances in Nutrition, the researchers unearthed several noteworthy findings regarding dairy consumption and health:

  • Maternal Health and Childhood Development: Maternal consumption of milk during pregnancy was linked to healthy development during childhood.
  • Older Adults’ Health: The consumption of dairy products seemed to curtail the risk of frailty and muscle loss in the elderly.
  • Bone Health: No clear association between high dairy intake and overall bone fracture risks was observed, although a reduced risk of spinal cord fractures was identified.
  • Mortality: Differences in dairy consumption levels did not exhibit a connection with risk of death.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Low-fat dairy foods were associated with a decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • Cardiovascular Health: The data underscored that dairy products do not exacerbate heart risks and might even offer a modest protective effect, with links found between dairy product intake and lower risks of heart disease and heart attacks.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Particularly, consumption of low-fat dairy and yogurt was associated with a diminished risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancer: Moderate dairy consumption was associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal and bladder cancer.
  • Inflammation: Dairy foods did not enhance inflammation in diverse populations, such as healthy individuals, overweight/obese individuals, or those with metabolic issues.

Furthermore, the researchers spotlighted the potential of dairy product fortification with phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids as a promising strategy to amplify heart health.

Dairy: A Worthy Inclusion in the Diet?

Drawing from these findings, the scientists posited that appropriate milk and dairy intake across various life stages can indeed proffer health advantages and may assist in the prevention of several chronic diseases.

As always, it’s crucial to recognize that nutritional science is a continually evolving field, and staying abreast of ongoing research and consulting healthcare professionals is vital to making informed dietary choices.

Interested readers may explore further by delving into other studies highlighting nutritional aspects, like how a Mediterranean diet might safeguard brain health or the impact of specific plant nutrients on high blood pressure.

It’s paramount to approach dietary choices with a well-rounded perspective, taking into account the multitude of factors that contribute to overall health and well-being.

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