Researchers from SAHMRI, UniSA, and Flinders University have discovered that adding dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt to a traditional Mediterranean diet can offer significant health benefits, particularly for the heart.
According to their study published in the journal Nutrients, this modified diet can improve the composition of gut bacteria, which plays a crucial role in overall health.
The team carried out an eight-week trial involving adults who were at risk for heart disease.
They found that the participants experienced a noticeable increase in beneficial gut bacteria and a decrease in harmful bacteria linked to heart disease after adhering to the diet.
Dr. Karen Murphy, the lead researcher from UniSA, emphasized the significance of gut health.
“The Mediterranean diet is already rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and amino acids. By adding dairy to meet Australian calcium guidelines, it becomes even more beneficial for promoting a healthy gut,” she said.
Gut Health and Heart Health: A Close Connection
Dr. Jocelyn Choo from SAHMRI and Flinders University, who led the microbiome analysis of the study, said that while the overall structure of gut bacteria didn’t dramatically change, the quantity of specific beneficial bacteria did.
“We saw that as people increased the number of good microbes in their gut through their diet, they also had lower blood pressure,” Dr. Choo noted.
This relationship is especially important as lower blood pressure can help reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
According to Dr. Choo, “These improvements are significant, given the potential implications for reducing heart disease and stroke risks.”
Why This Study Matters
This research adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for metabolism and heart health.
The study uniquely highlights the role that dairy-enriched Mediterranean diets can play in enhancing gut health and, in turn, cardiometabolic health.
In simpler terms, if you’re looking to improve your heart health, it may be worthwhile to explore a Mediterranean diet enhanced with dairy products.
It not only provides a delicious and varied meal plan but also has the scientific backing for improving gut and heart health.
The team hopes their findings will encourage further research and eventually lead to more targeted dietary recommendations.
The research findings can be found in Nutrients.
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