Nutrition

RESEARCH

We want to make sure health professionals have access to the most up to date research and information on dairy products and how their consumption impacts health. On this page you will find links to the most current National Dairy Council Research Summaries on 7 different topics as well as some detailed information regarding dairy foods and child health, cardiovascular disease, fat and protein.

National Dairy Council

Research Summaries

Research & Resources

Dairy Fat

Cardiovascular Disease

Summary

Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, as well as around the world, with an estimated 31% of all deaths globally. In the U.S. cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for $270 billion annually in health care, medication, and lost productivity costs. It has also been estimated that 33% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure leading to an increase in CVD risk. Research continues to gain momentum as new studies show either a neutral or lower CVD risk related to the consumption of dairy. This research has focused on three meta-analyses and 15 prospective cohort studies presenting a strong association between higher dairy food consumption and a reduced risk of developing CVD. A dose-response meta-analyses concluded that total milk consumption resulted in a moderate benefit of CVD risk; however, not with total mortality, when 200 ml (8 fl oz = 240 ml) of milk per day was consumed. Another meta-analysis representing 22 prospective cohort studies found that a diet including low-fat dairy and cheese was not only associated with a lower risk of overall CVD, but a lower risk of stroke and CHD incidence as well. CHD, stroke, and CVD have been investigated via four large cohort studies among European adults finding a reduced risk of CVD in regards to fermented milk with no association between other dairy intake. In these studies, low-fat dairy consumption was linked to a reduced risk of stroke as well as total dairy foods and cheese resulting in a reduced risk of heart attack. In a smaller study among elderly Dutch participants, total dairy intake had a neutral association regarding CVD, but high-fat dairy consumption was linked to a decreased risk of fatal stroke.

Resources

American Heart Association 

Fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by CVD and stroke.

 

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 

A government organization that funds heart disease research throughout the U.S.

 

Million Hearts

Aims to prevent a million CV events in five years through optimizing care, keeping people healthy, and improving outcomes for priority populations.

CVD
Protein

Summary

Dairy protein (i.e. whey and casein) is known for its high quality and bioavailability, containing all nine essential amino acids with one gram of protein per fluid ounce of milk. Due to this high quality of protein, milk is highly recommended for growing children, athletes, and elderly individuals to meet their dietary needs. Research regarding protein intake in the older American population found that doubling dairy product intake aided in providing these older adults an intake level closer to the recommended 1.2g/kg IBW/day, while doubling protein from plant-based sources dropped the intake by 22%. Furthermore, research conducted in Switzerland suggests that consumption of dairy protein may be related to a reduced risk of bone fracture among postmenopausal women. While other sources of protein intake were taken into consideration for this study, dairy foods—a good source of calcium as well—made up over one quarter of the total protein consumed.

A randomized controlled trial looked at the consumption of dairy protein verses a carbohydrate control beverage and their effect on blood pressure. Participants consumed shakes consisting of 28 g of either whey, casein, or carbohydrates twice a day for a total of eight weeks. In comparison to the control, whey protein consumption resulted in lower blood pressure as well as levels of triglycerides. Both the whey and casein groups showed more favorable blood vessel function and lower levels of total cholesterol compared to the carbohydrate control group. The results from this study add to the growing list of research suggesting a correlation between dairy protein and blood pressure.

Resources

Harvard: The Nutrition Source 

Provides an overview of protein functions, types, and its role in chronic disease.

 

The Power of Protein Slides

Provides current protein recommendations, research examining the impact of protein quantity and quality on health outcomes, and highlights culinary applications to maximize high-quality protein in foods.

 

Nature Research

Publishes original research across a wide range of scientific fields and is ranked one of the world’s top academic journals.

Protein
Milk Fat

Summary

Dairy fat is very unique in nature with over 400 different types of fatty acids making up their structure. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of the fat in dairy is saturated with the remaining one-third being unsaturated (including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids). It is believed that biological effects of saturated fatty acids found in dairy foods may lead to the different effects noted in current research regarding their intake. The most common saturated fatty acids found in dairy fat contain 12, 14, 16, or 18 carbons. Stearic acid (18 carbons) has shown no effect on LDL-C levels, while the remaining three raise LDL-C, but also raise levels of HDL-C and lower triglycerides, according to research. A multicenter, randomized trial compared saturated fat from butter, saturated fat from cheese, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and high carbohydrate/low fat intake among individuals at high risk of heart disease. Researchers found that both the cheese and butter diets had a beneficial effect on HDL compared to the higher carbohydrate diet, with the butter diet increasing LDL while reducing triglyceride levels. In another study made up of Canadian preschool children, researchers found that children who consumed whole-fat milk had higher concentrations of vitamin D as well as a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who consumed one percent milk. This suggests that children consuming fluid milk with a higher fat content have lower weight gain than those drinking lesser fat milk; however, more intervention and longitudinal studies are needed to support this hypothesis.

            Although whole and reduced-fat dairy products contain more calories than the low-fat and fat-free options, research indicates that there is no association between high fat dairy consumption and risk of obesity or cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Supporting research has found no link between dairy fat consumption and long-term weight gain in three prospective cohorts and a women’s health study.

Resources

Milk Facts: Milk Fats

Describes the properties of milk fat chemistry, physical properties, deterioration, and the influences of heat treatments.

 

Today’s Dietitian: The Truth about Dairy Fats

This article addresses types of fat, the role dairy plays in our diet, and how this could impact health and chronic disease.

 

US News: 5 Reasons to Start Eating Full-Fat Dairy

Looking at emerging research, this article addresses the benefits of consuming full-fat dairy.

Child Health

Summary

Dairy products can play a key role in providing children with the dietary intake of nutrients required for growth, as milk contains 9 essential nutrients. With three servings of dairy daily, children consume 3 out of the 4 nutrients noted as public health concern (i.e. calcium, vitamin D, and potassium). Research suggests that when children have the option of consuming flavored milk they consume more milk, which leads to a decrease in the percent of children falling below the EAR for calcium. In addition to this, milk may also play a role in lowering the risk of overweight/obesity in children. A cross-sectional study determined that children consuming whole milk presented with higher concentrations of vitamin D as well as a lower body mass index (BMI) than those consuming 1% milk. As researchers continue to probe the relationship between dairy consumption and nutrient intake and weight maintenance through clinical trials and longitudinal studies, it is important to note that dairy contains nutrients necessary for the growth and development of children and thus should be considered in improving their diet.

 

Child Health

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics

Pediatricians committed to the optimal health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

 

Nutriton.gov: Children

USDA-sponsored website providing reliable information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety for consumers.

 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Kids Eat Right.

Dedicated to ending the childhood obesity epidemic by educating families, communities, and policy makers about the importance of quality nutrition.