We all knew this was coming. Every sane person I know has never believed the BS that full fat milk is harmful. (Nor that eggs are bad for you because they’re full of cholesterol. Turns out they are, it’s the good kind.) But there are always those people who come to your home and turn their noses up at whole milk and ask for that chemical non-dairy creamer.
So imagine my elation when I read this research report from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition totally vindicating the fats in whole milk.
An analysis of 2,907 adults found that people with higher and lower levels of dairy fats in their blood had the same rate of death during a 22-year period.
The implication is that it didn’t matter if people drank whole or skim or 2-percent milk, ate butter versus margarine, etc. The researchers concluded that dairy-fat consumption later in life “does not significantly influence total mortality.”
“I think the big news here is that even though there is this conventional wisdom that whole-fat dairy is bad for heart disease, we didn’t find that,” says Marcia de Oliveira Otto, the lead researcher of the study. “And it’s not only us. A number of recent studies have found the same thing.”
De Oliveira Otto believes that this evidence is not itself a reason to eat more or less dairy. But she said it could encourage people to give priority to whole-fat dairy products over those that may be lower in fat but higher in sugar, which may be added to make up for a lack of taste or texture.
Controversy has emerged about the benefits compared with harms of dairy fat, including concerns over long-term effects. Previous observational studies have assessed self-reported estimates of consumption or a single biomarker measure at baseline, which may lead to suboptimal estimation of true risk.
The aim of this study was to investigate prospective associations of serial measures of plasma phospholipid fatty acids pentadecanoic (15:0), heptadecanoic (17:0), and trans-palmitoleic (trans-16:1n–7) acids with total mortality, cause-specific mortality, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among older adults.
Among 2907 US adults aged ≥65 years and free of CVD at baseline, circulating fatty acid concentrations were measured serially at baseline, 6 y, and 13 y. Deaths and CVD events were assessed and adjudicated centrally. Prospective associations were assessed by multivariate-adjusted Cox models incorporating time-dependent exposures and covariates.Results
During 22 y of follow-up, 2428 deaths occurred, including 833 from CVD, 1595 from non-CVD causes, and 1301 incident CVD events. In multivariable models, circulating pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic, and trans-palmitoleic acids were not significantly associated with total mortality, with extreme-quintile HRs of 1.05 for pentadecanoic (95% CI: 0.91, 1.22), 1.07 for heptadecanoic (95% CI: 0.93, 1.23), and 1.05 for trans-palmitoleic (95% CI: 0.91, 1.20) acids. Circulating heptadecanoic acid was associated with lower CVD mortality (extreme-quintile HR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.98), especially stroke mortality, with a 42% lower risk when comparing extreme quintiles of heptadecanoic acid concentrations (HR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.97). In contrast, heptadecanoic acid was associated with a higher risk of non-CVD mortality (HR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.52), which was not clearly related to any single subtype of non-CVD death. No significant associations of pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic, or trans-palmitoleic acids were seen for total incident CVD, coronary heart disease, or stroke.
Long-term exposure to circulating phospholipid pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic, or trans-palmitoleic acids was not significantly associated with total mortality or incident CVD among older adults. High circulating heptadecanoic acid was inversely associated with CVD and stroke mortality and potentially associated with higher risk of non-CVD death.