New perspectives on dairy and cardiovascular health

Proc Nutr Soc. 2016 Aug;75(3):247-58. doi: 10.1017/S002966511600001X. Epub 2016 Feb 24.


CVD are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. One of the key dietary recommendations for CVD prevention is reduction of saturated fat intake. Yet, despite milk and dairy foods contributing on average 27 % of saturated fat intake in the UK diet, evidence from prospective cohort studies does not support a detrimental effect of milk and dairy foods on risk of CVD. The present paper provides a brief overview of the role of milk and dairy products in the diets of UK adults, and will summarise the evidence in relation to the effects of milk and dairy consumption on CVD risk factors and mortality. The majority of prospective studies and meta-analyses examining the relationship between milk and dairy product consumption and risk of CVD show that milk and dairy products, excluding butter, are not associated with detrimental effects on CVD mortality or risk biomarkers that include serum LDL-cholesterol. In addition, there is increasing evidence that milk and dairy products are associated with lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. These apparent benefits of milk and dairy foods have been attributed to their unique nutritional composition, and suggest that the elimination of milk and dairy may not be the optimum strategy for CVD risk reduction.

Keywords: BP blood pressure; Blood pressure; CVD; Dairy products; HDL-C HDL-cholesterol; HR hazard ratio; LDL-C LDL-cholesterol; Milk; RCT randomised control trial; RR relative risk; Serum lipids; iTFA industrial trans fatty acid; rTFA ruminant trans fatty acids.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Milk*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vascular Stiffness


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Micronutrients
  • Triglycerides