In a new study, researchers found that dairy products like buttermilk and cream contain important lipids that can help reduce heart disease risk.
The lipids are polar lipids, specific lipids that naturally stabilize fat droplets in the dairy products.
Polar lipids play a crucial physiological role as they are essential components of cell membranes.
Previous research has shown the health benefits of milk polar lipids on liver metabolism and the regulation of blood cholesterol levels.
In the new study, the team examined if the polar lipids in cream and buttermilk could protect people with a high heart disease risk.
They tested 58 overweight older women, who were asked to include cream cheese that was more or less enriched in milk polar lipids as part of their daily diet.
After a month of eating specially-designed buttermilk, the team found a big decrease in the people’s blood levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk factors of heart disease.
The researchers then found that certain milk polar lipids and cholesterol may form a complex in the small intestine that cannot be absorbed by the gut and is finally excreted in the stools.
These findings show that these milk polar lipids could protect heart health in people with a high risk of heart disease.
The team hopes their results could help make new nutritional methods to reduce heart disease risk in older, overweight people.
In addition, milk polar lipids could offer a promising alternative to the soy lecithin that is currently used in a large number of foods.
The lead author of the study is Cécile Vors, Université Claude Bernard Lyon.
The study is published in the journal Gut.
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