A well-balanced diet remains key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And according to new research, making sure to include dairy products can reap significant health benefits, including lowering the risk of diabetes and hypertension.
A recent study involving 21 different countries examining the consumption of dairy products around the world and the rates of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and diabetes showed some important health trends.
“The outcomes showed that daily intake, both whole fat and reduced fat were associated with lower blood pressure, waist circumference, and blood glucose,’’ said Laurel Marek, nurse practitioner, Center For Senior Health and Longevity at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee.
Specifically, researchers found an association of a 24% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that increase the risk of heart disease. That lowered risk was connected to having a minimum of two servings of dairy per day as opposed to eating no dairy. They also reported that whole-fat dairy had a stronger association than low-fat dairy with lowering the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
The study comes at an interesting time as milk consumption in the U.S. continues to decline. According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans have reduced their intake of milk by more than 40% since 1975. While the year-to-year rate of decline isn’t dramatic, the length of the decline over 45 years is significant.
Marek said the benefits of dairy consumption, particularly for maintaining strong bones, has been well documented. But for people who may be at risk for developing diabetes or high blood pressure, consuming more dairy might be a good way to manage heart disease and diabetes.
“My recommendation for my patient would be an easy, cheap way to get your numbers on track is to add dairy to your diet,’’ she said. “A cup of yogurt or milk a day could go a lot further than you think. Dairy is filling and has more health benefits than we previously thought.”