A diet filled with fermented dairy products like cheese, yogurt and kefir could help prevent coronary heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have found that a very high consumption of non-fermented dairy products is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, while fermented dairy products have more positive effects on blood lipid profiles and reduce the risk of heart disease.
“Here in Finland, people’s habits of consuming different dairy products have changed over the past decades,” Adjunct Professor Jyrki Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland, said in a statement. “For instance, the consumption of milk and sour milk have declined, while many fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt, quark and cheeses, have gained in popularity.”
The University of Eastern Finland are currently conducting the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, an ongoing study exploring the associations of fermented and non-fermented dairy products with the risk of incident coronary heart disease.
The study includes approximately 2,000 men, who had their dietary habits assessed at the beginning of the study between 1984 and 1989 and then followed up on for an average of 20 years.
During the follow-up, 472 men were found to have an incident coronary heart disease event.
In the study, participants were divided into different groups based on how much of different dairy products they ate. The research team then compared the groups with the highest and lowest consumption while factoring various lifestyle and nutrition factors.
The participants were ultimately split into four different groups and based on their consumption of fermented dairy products with less than 3.5 percent fat, the risk of incident coronary heart disease was 26 percent lower in the highest consumption group compared to the lowest consumption group.
Sour milk was the most commonly used low-fat fermented dairy product. In addition, the consumption of high-fat fermented dairy products like cheese was not associated with the risk of incident coronary heart disease.
However, the researchers found that a very high consumption of non-fermented dairy products like milk was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease.
The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.