People who have a low dairy intake in their diet have been told to increase their consumption following a study which shows dairy in moderation may protect the heart.
An international team of researchers from 32 institutions looked at dairy consumption among more than 136,000 people in 21 countries worldwide.
The study, published in The Lancet, found people who had more than 2 servings of dairy products a day were 16% less likely to die or have a heart attack or stroke during an average of 9 years of follow-up.
People who drank more than 1 glass of milk a day had a 10% reduction in risk and those who ate more than 1 cup of yoghurt a day had a 14% reduction in risk.
On the surface, this would seem to contradict UK advice to limit consumption of dairy products, especially full-fat products, as they're a rich source of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease risk.
Most of the benefit seemed to come from milk and yoghurt, and the effect was strongest in low and middle-income countries. The benefits of full-fat dairy seemed greater.
The UK guidelines to consume 2 to 3 portions of dairy products daily, and choose reduced-fat versions, remain unchanged.
The researchers said: “Our study suggests that consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged and perhaps should even be encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is low.”