Harvard Heart Letter

Two daily servings of dairy: Good for your heart?

Research we’re watching

People whose daily diets include at least two servings per day of milk, yogurt, or cheese appear to have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or death than people who don’t consume dairy products.

The findings, published Sept. 11, 2018, in The Lancet, were based on food questionnaires from more than 136,000 people from 21 countries. After a follow-up that lasted an average of nine years, researchers found that adults who consumed two or more servings of dairy each day had a 22% lower risk for heart disease, a 34% lower risk for stroke, and a 23% lower risk of heart-related death. Observational studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But dairy-based foods contain vitamins D and K, calcium, and other nutrients thought to be good for cardiovascular health. The findings support the benefits of all types of dairy, including full-fat versions. However, current guidelines still recommend nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, which contain fewer calories and less saturated fat.

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