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Eating plenty of fermented dairy products — including cheese, yoghurt, sour milk — could protect you against heart attacks, finds a new study. 

The University of Eastern Finland research has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The researchers found that men who eat plenty of fermented dairy products have a smaller risk of incident coronary heart disease than men who eat less of these products. A very high consumption of non-fermented dairy products, on the other hand, was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease.

Earlier studies have shown that fermented dairy products have more positive effects on blood lipid profiles and on the risk of heart disease than other dairy products. However, research on the topic remains scarce. The study participants were divided into groups on the basis of how much they ate different dairy products, and the researchers compared the groups with the highest and lowest consumption, while also taking various lifestyle and nutrition factors into consideration.

When the study participants were divided into four groups on the basis of their consumption of fermented dairy products with less than 3.5% fat, the risk of incident coronary heart disease was 26% lower in the highest consumption group compared to the lowest consumption group. Sour milk was the most commonly used low-fat fermented dairy product. The consumption of high-fat fermented dairy products, such as cheese, was not associated with the risk of incident coronary heart disease.

However, the researchers found that a very high consumption on non-fermented dairy products was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease. Milk was the most commonly used product in this category, and a very high consumption was defined as an average daily milk intake of 0.9 litres. Lower consumption levels were not associated with the risk.
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