Most people crave for cheese, butter, or other high fat dairy products at some point. However, health conscious individuals usually steer clear from such food as the saturated fat present in them harms the heart.
A new study, however, indicates that notion is a misconception and that consumption of high fat products — such as cheese and milk — does not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
High Fat Dairy Products Are Harmless?
Researchers from Britain's Reading University collaborated with scientists from Copenhagen University in Denmark and Wageningen University in the Netherlands for the new study. Researchers examined data collected in 29 previous studies, which collectively included 938,465 participants from around the world. All these studies were conducted within the last 35 years.
Following extensive analysis, the researchers noted that they could not find any connection between consumption of dairy products high in saturated fats and heart diseases.
"There's been a lot of publicity over the last five to 10 years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don't," Ian Givens, a professor of Nutrition at Reading University and one of the study's researchers, told The Guardian.
Moreover, the team discovered that consumption of fermented dairy products may actually slightly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers also claimed that kids were not drinking enough milk as parents felt that the saturated fat in the dairy product would harm their child. They warned that the calcium in milk products is essential for the body, especially for girls as they are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis or brittle bone disease due to lack of the nutrient.
The researchers also highlighted that due to the misconceptions about dairy products, even pregnant women were avoiding milk, cheese, and yogurt. This lack of dairy product consumption raises the risk of their children developing neurological disorders in the womb.
Criticism From The Scientific and Health Community
Even though Givens and his associates are confident about the results, the study has met with widespread criticism from the scientific community. Government health advisers have warned people against believing the results and even cautioned them to continue avoiding saturated fats as much as possible.
They stated that along with the saturated fats, many dairy products contained high amounts of salt. They asserted that both of these are harmful for the human body and overall heart health.
"Decades of research have proved that a diet rich in saturated fat increases 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol in your blood, which puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke," Mike Knapton, an associate medical director from the British Heart Foundation, remarked.
He added that the study's results were "misleading" and "unhelpful".
The results of the study have been published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.