• Research Sheds New Light on Dairy’s Health Effects

    By Moises Torres-Gonzalez October 12, 2017

    moises.jpgInvesting in nutrition research to increase the understanding of dairy’s impact on the human body and filling knowledge gaps is a priority for the National Dairy Council (NDC). The latest updates show dairy as the ultimate ingredient in product development for delivering high-quality nutrition across the globe.

    360-diet benefits of full-fat dairy

    Diet plans such as the DASH and Mediterranean diets are recommended by health authorities because they give consumers food guidelines that could reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease. These diets have progressively been listed on the top diet trends for the year. The DASH diet is recommended mainly to help treat or prevent high blood pressure by increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains intake, in addition to decreasing fat and saturated fat intake and increasing nutrient-rich foods. The Mediterranean diet is structured to reduce the risk of heart disease by promoting the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.

    Both diet plans instruct the use of low-fat and non-fat dairy foods to limit saturated fat intake for presumed health reasons. However, a study done in 2016 substituted low- or nonfat dairy options with full fat in the DASH diet. Researchers found that the full-fat dairy DASH diet resulted in a better overall blood lipid profile while maintaining the positive effects on blood pressure. Although still more research is needed, the accumulating scientific evidence suggests that full-fat dairy foods can be part of a healthy diet to enhance or reinforce food recommendations.

    Unmatchable quality of dairy proteins

    Full-fat dairy foods are not the only way to obtain milk’s nutrients. Scientific evidence also supports the nutritional importance of dairy protein ingredients. The proteins derived from milk can be formulated in snacks, meal items, confectionery, bakery, beverage and appetizers for all-day protein consumption. Studies have demonstrated dairy proteins’ ability to help improve body composition in men and women during weight loss, with and without exercise, increase muscle mass and muscle recovery after exercise when paired with resistance or endurance exercise, respectively, and muscle mass recovery and function in the elderly. These results are specific to dairy protein and do not necessarily apply to all protein sources given differences in protein quality.  

    High-quality proteins are complete sources containing all the essential amino acids (EAA) and rapidly digest. Dairy proteins meet the EAA requirements, with fewer calories, and rank higher on protein quality measurement scores than other sources. Researchers from the University of Illinois used the new method proposed by the FAO in 2011, digestible indispensable amino acid scores (DIAAS) to rank eight protein sources in terms of quality. The dairy proteins tested received higher rankings than soy, pea and wheat proteins, portraying dairy proteins as one of the highest quality sources available.

    As the director of nutrition research at NDC, I recently had the opportunity to share these studies with health professionals, nutrition researchers, product developers, and culinary and sports dieticians. The conversations were at the USDEC/NDC forum in Chicago on September 20-21 and in Mexico City at the Food Technology Summit September 27-28 and at the 2nd International Forum Milk and Health Oct 9-10. For a full list of upcoming events to hear more about these studies, click here.

    These are just a few of the many studies that continue building the scientific support of the health benefits of full-fat dairy and dairy ingredients. The new research on full-fat dairy effects on heart and cerebrovascular health, type 2 diabetes and obesity, is unfolding, causing a significant shift in thinking and how food is formulated. Explore upcoming events where you can hear more about the indispensable health benefits of dairy.

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