Globally, cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims 17 million lives each year, while complications from high blood pressure take an additional 9.4 million. New research presented by international scientists at the 12th Euro Fed Lipid Congress in Montpellier, France on September 15, 2014, suggests that milk consumption and dairy may play a beneficial role. 


At the Milk and Dairy Products in Human Health session, the association between milk and risk for hypertension and CVD was examined by Dr. Sabita S. Soedamah-Muthu from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Dr. Soedamah-Muthu explained that, based on nine studies with 57,256 individuals and 15,367 cases of hypertension, the analysis revealed that as total dairy, low-fat dairy and milk (just over two cups a day) consumption increased, the risk for high blood pressure decreased. Milk intake was not statistically significantly associated with risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and total mortality.

"These meta-analyses indicate that there is a link between increasing the number of glasses of milk a day and a lower incidence of hypertension," explained Dr. Soedamah-Muthu. These findings are further supported by a clinical trial by Daniel R. Machin, et. al. published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2014 that showed the addition of four servings of nonfat dairy per day to a routine diet lowered blood pressure in middle-aged and older adults.

In addition to reviewing the role of dairy and heart health, international experts presented data evaluating the effects of dairy products and dairy fat on chronic disease risk factors, such as cholesterol biomarkers, body fat accumulation and weight gain. New research about milk fat and associated fat-soluble nutrients in infant formula to benefit brain development and to enhance elderly nutrition suggest an untapped nutritional value of dairy food components.

"The results of this diverse session lay the groundwork for future investigations into the overall impact dairy may have on public health," notes Dr. Cindy Schweitzer, PhD, CFS, Technical Director, Global Dairy Platform. "It appears that dairy's nutrient-rich package may have a positive impact on health, development and performance in more ways than previously expected."