Low Fat Dairy Lowers Stroke Risk

Strokes less likely with lower fat dairy consumption

April 19, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Do you regularly drink a glass of low-fat milk, or snack on low-fat cheese or yogurt? If so, you might be giving yourself the benefit of a lower risk of stroke.

As compared to individuals who eat full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, those who regularly opt for the lower fat variety are receiving added protection from stroke.

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Susanna Larsson, PhD, the study’s first author and associate professor of epidemiology in the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, noted that the study was the largest yet to examine the association between stroke and dairy products with varying levels of fat.

Larsson emphasized that if individuals eat more low-fat dairy foods instead of ones high in fat, they will benefit from a reduced risk of stroke, and other positive health outcomes.

During the study researchers followed nearly 75,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 83. At the beginning of the study none of the participants had cancer or heart disease, and none had experienced a stroke. Patients completed a 96-item food and beverage questionnaire to determine their dietary habits, including how often they consumed particular drinks and foods.

During the 10-year follow up period, 4,089 strokes were documented. Of those, 3,159 were ischemic strokes, 583 were hemorrhagic strokes and 347 were an unspecified type.

After analyzing the data investigators found that men and women who ate low-fat dairy foods had a 12 percent lower risk of stroke overall, and a 13 percent reduced chance of an ischemic stroke as compared to those who consumed high-fat dairy products.

Researchers suggest the benefits of low-fat dairy products likely comes from the vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin D. The vitamin D may, in part, lower the risk of stroke by reducing blood pressure, which is a major stroke risk factor, Larsson said.

The study was recently published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

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Review Date: 
April 15, 2012
Last Updated:
April 19, 2012