Lately, there has been a really big push to keep people from eating dairy products with justification stemming from ideas such as a relationship between dairy product consumption and stroke as well as type 2 diabetes. Clearly, the idea that dairy products can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes has pretty well been proven false. With respect to the idea that dairy product consumption can increase the risk of stroke, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition addressed that idea.
Rather than relying on self reported dairy product consumption, in other words, asking people what they ate, this new report actually looked at what are called biomarkers to determine dairy product consumption. Biomarkers are, in this case, specific measurable fatty acids that are unique to dairy products and therefore could be assessed by looking at blood results.
The study looked at two large US studies involving more than 51,000 men and and 122,000 women. It looked at these blood related biomarkers which were indicative of dairy product consumption, and tried to assess these biomarkers in relation to having a stroke either of the ischemic type (blockage of a blood vessel), or hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain).
The study revealed that there was absolutely no correlation between the levels of biomarkers for dairy product consumption and risk for either type of stroke.
To be clear, I don’t believe that the typical store bought dairy products derived from cows that have been fed genetically modified grain, treated with antibiotics, and possibly growth hormone, represents a good nutritional option. That said however, using small amounts of dairy product from grass-fed cattle, provided there is no intolerance to lactose or casein, that has not exposed to GMO foods or treated with antibiotics, is something that can be appropriate in the diet. Certainly, we can take the idea of increasing stroke risk off the table.
Some may fear dairy products because of their content of saturated fat. But as we learned earlier this year, in a study of more than 600,000 individuals, there is no relationship between dietary saturated fat and risk for coronary artery disease.