As very few prospective studies have examined the relation of dairy fat with heart disease, the purpose of this research was to evaluate this association in US adults.
Using data from three major prospective US cohort studies [i.e. the HPFS (Health Professionals Follow-Up Study), the NHS (Nurses’ Health Study), and the NHS II.] it was shown that, compared with an equivalent amount of energy from carbohydrates (excluding fruit and vegetables), intake of dairy fat was not associated with risk of CVD. However, the replacement of dairy fat with vegetable sources of fat or PUFA was associated with significantly lower risk of CVD, whereas the replacement of dairy fat with other animal sources of fat was associated with slightly higher risk of CVD.
These associations were similar for CHD and stroke. The results suggest that, compared with dairy fat, vegetable sources of fat and PUFA are a better choice for reducing risks of CHD, stroke, and total CVD, although other animal fat (e.g., from meats) may be a less healthy choice than dairy fat.
In addition, it was shown that types of carbohydrates made a difference; the replacement of dairy fat with high-quality carbohydrates such as whole grains was associated with lower risk of CVD, but the replacement with refined starch and added sugar did not appear beneficial.
These results support current recommendations to replace animal fats, including dairy fat, with vegetable sources of fats and polyunsaturated fat (both n–6 and n–3) in the prevention of CVD.