A new study draws some interesting findings about a meal-time go-to.

Perri Ormont Blumberg
July 19, 2018

Got milk? When a Southerner asks that question, chances are what he or she really means is "got whole milk?" This is especially holds true if you see milk listed in the ingredients of a recipe. Don't you dare try to put skim milk in your mac and cheese.

Indeed, we've long sung the virtues of rich, creamy, full-fat dairy — at least from a taste perspective — and a growing body of science-backed evidence is touting its health benefits, too. Now, new research from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has found that full-fat dairy may offer some protection from heart disease, especially stroke. Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on July 11th, the new study was titled "Serial measures of circulating biomarkers of dairy fat and total and cause-specific mortality in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study." 

That may sound like a mouthful, but the study was fairly straightforward: It looked at nearly 3,000 American adults aged 65 and older over the course of 22 years and tracked how several biomarkers of fatty acid present in dairy fat was associated with heart disease and death. As the results revealed, none of the fatty acid types were significantly associated with total mortality, and one type was actually linked to lower heart disease deaths.

"Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke," said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study's first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UTHealth, in a press release.

Of course, dairy can be found in plenty of not-so-wholesome treats (sugary ice cream and yogurt, pastries, biscuits, fried cheese anything). But if you go for a tall glass of whole milk on a hot day or enjoy unsweetened, full-fat yogurt with some fresh fruit for breakfast, this study certainly bolsters the case for the benefits of full-fat dairy.

Looking for some healthy eating inspiration? Check out 7 healthy foods you should always have in your freezer and the one Sunday night meal prep tip that keeps you eating healthy all week.