Study: Eating High-Fat Dairy Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Food sources of fat may clarify the inconsistent role of dietary fat intake for incidence of type 2 diabetes — Am J Clin Nutrition 04 01 2015 — “Total intake of high-fat/regular-fat dairy products was INVERSELY associated with incident type 2 diabetes.”

My Notes:  This would seem to directly contradict the standard advice for diabetes and prediabetics to choose only low-fat dairy.  Interesting.


Study: Eating High-Fat Dairy Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk

The study was presented at this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Vienna, Austria. It included data for nearly 27,000 people (60% women), aged 45-74 years, culled from the Swedish Malmö Diet and Cancer Study. Study participants were tracked for 14 years after original data collection, during which time 2,680 cases of Type 2 diabetes were diagnosed.

The results showed that study participants eating eight portions of high-fat dairy a day (including cream and whole milk) had a 23% lower incidence of developing diabetes than those eating one portion a day. The same effect was not found for those eating low-fat dairy products.

Researchers controlled for a range of factors to weed out other possible contributing causes, including total energy intake, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and education.

The study also tracked diabetes rates associated with eating meat and meat products like sausage, and found an increased risk of developing the disease for those eating the most meat, regardless of fat content. But, people eating lower-fat meats were at greater risk than those eating high-fat meats (9% greater risk for high-fat meats versus 24% for low-fat meats).

The results suggest that when it comes to diabetes risk, not all fats are created equal. Dairy fats may actually provide protection against the disease. Quoting lead study author Dr. Ulrika Ericson, from the Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden: “Our observations may contribute to clarifying previous findings regarding dietary fats and their food sources in relation to Type 2 diabetes. The decreased risk at high intakes of high-fat dairy products, but not of low-fat dairy products, indicate that dairy fat, at least partly, explains observed protective associations between dairy intake and Type 2 diabetes.”

If you’re wondering, “eight portions” of high-fat dairy in this study is the equivalent of about six ounces of whole milk or a little over one ounce of whole cream per day. That’s about two and a half tablespoons of cream in a cup of coffee.

Don’t run out to raid the dairy aisle just yet. While this study included data from a large population sample, there are significant differences between the average American’s diet and the average European’s. Dairy appears to be a distinguishing factor in diabetes risk within the context of a typical Swedish diet, but we don’t know if the results would hold true with a similarly sized U.S. population sample. Future research will have to plumb that possibility.

At the very least, these results add to a growing list of findings suggesting that fat may not deserve the dietary arch villain label it has carried for decades.



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