This diet may help lower risks of diabetes and high blood pressure, new evidence shows

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In a new study, researchers found eating at least two daily servings of dairy is linked to lower risks of diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as the cluster of factors that heighten heart disease risk (metabolic syndrome).

The effects were strongest for full-fat dairy products.

The research was conducted by a team at McMaster University.

Previous research has found that higher dairy intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

But these studies have tended to focus on North America and Europe to the exclusion of other regions of the world.

To see whether these associations might also be found in a broader range of countries, the researchers drew on people taking part in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study.

Participants were all aged between 35 and 70 and came from 21 countries: Argentina; Bangladesh; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; India; Iran; Malaysia; Palestine; Pakistan; Philippines, Poland; South Africa; Saudi Arabia; Sweden; Tanzania; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; and Zimbabwe.

Dairy products included milk, yogurt, yogurt drinks, cheese, and dishes prepared with dairy products, and were classified as full or low fat (1-2%).

Butter and cream were assessed separately as these are not commonly eaten in some of the countries studied.

The health of nearly 190,000 participants was tracked for an average of nine years, during which time 13,640 people developed high blood pressure and 5351 developed diabetes.

The team found total dairy and full-fat dairy, but not low-fat dairy, were linked to a lower prevalence of most components of metabolic syndrome, with the size of the association greatest in those countries with normally low dairy intakes.

At least 2 servings a day of total dairy were linked to a 24% lower risk of metabolic syndrome, rising to 28% for full-fat dairy alone, compared with no daily dairy intake.

At least 2 servings a day of total dairy was linked to an 11-12% lower risk of both conditions, rising to a 13-14% lower risk for 3 daily servings. The associations were stronger for full fat than they were for low-fat dairy.

The team says that increasing dairy consumption may be a feasible and low-cost way of reducing metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately heart disease events worldwide.

The study is published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

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