Eating cheese could help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
Scientists found that people who consumed fat-rich dairy, such as cheese, cream and yogurt, were less likely than those who did not to be diagnosed with the disease.
The last few years have seen the rise of the anti-dairy health fad, with advocates saying whole milk and other dairy products are high in calories and saturated fat.
But the team, led by the University of Cambridge in the UK, says its findings show that consuming dairy shouldn’t be discouraged – and that a reexamination of the potential metabolic benefits of dairy is needed.
Currently, the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends no more than three servings of dairy per day and advises to choose fat-free and low-fat options.
This is based on research that has shown saturated fats found in whole-fat products raises your LDL cholesterol, a marker of heart disease.
However, past evidence has suggested there are a number of nutrients found in dairy products including calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins K1 and K2, and probiotics (in yogurt) that could contribute to a healthy diet.
Some previous research has found that eating dairy products, particularly cheese and yogurt, was linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes – but findings have been inconsistent.
For the review, the team tracked more than 63,600 adults over the course of 20 years from 16 different studies.
The participants were tested for dairy-fat biomarkers, molecules in the body that act as indicators that dairy was consumed.
All the adults were free from type 2 diabetes when the study began but, during the follow-up period, more than 15,100 developed the condition.
In each of the studies, the researchers analyzed the relationships of dairy fat biomarkers with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
They found that that participants with higher concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
People among the top-fifth of high concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers had a 30 percent lower risk of the disease compared to the bottom-fifth.
This was independent of other potential risk factors including age, sex, race ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical activity and obesity.
‘Our results provide the most comprehensive global evidence to date about dairy fat biomarkers and their relationship with lower risk of type 2 diabetes,’ said lead author, Dr Fumiaki Imamura from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
‘We’re aware that our biomarker work has limitations and requires further research on underlying mechanisms, but at the very least, the available evidence about dairy fat does not indicate any increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.’
The researchers note that their findings cannot distinguish which dairy products offer the greatest protection.
For future research, the team would like to examine different types of dairy products eaten in diverse populations to see if preparation methods play a role.
The study comes on the heels of research published last month from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, that found three servings of dairy per day could help lower your risk of heart disease.
A serving was determined as being equivalent to a glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, one 15 gram slice of cheese, or a teaspoon of butter.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Mary Kekatos