Blood Lipid Profiles Not Improved by Decreased Milk Consumption

People with high lipid levels are often told to reduce dairy intake. Does it actually help?

People who have excessive blood lipids are often told to reduce dairy consumption. This recommendation was challenged in a recent study in the Nutrition Journal.

One of the reasons milk is often discouraged for people with high lipid levels is its trans fat content. Trans fats tend to be oils that behave more like fats at room temperature, and are therefore more stable. Because of this, they are often put in foods to allow them to last longer. However, trans fats are generally considered to be the worst fat to consume for health. Trans fats are typically manufactured, but the milk of ruminant animals is one of the few natural sources.

Besides the trans fat content, a high percentage of the fat content in milk is saturated fat. While the links between saturated fat and poor health have loosened of late, it’s thought that reducing saturated fats is important for blood lipids.

In the Journal study, researchers took the blood lipid profiles of 180 participants who were roughly similar in variables like age and health. They then split them into three groups. One group kept their normal diet, another increased their dairy intake, and the third decreased their dairy intake. The difference between the decreased and increased dairy groups amounted to about 5.5 servings of dairy every day. They did this for a full month, and then took their blood again.

When examining the blood, the researchers looked for changes in the levels of four kinds of saturated fats, four kinds of trans fats, and ten unsaturated fats. None of these numbers were lowered in the dairy reduction group. The high dairy group did report higher numbers compared to both the control groups and the reduced group, however.

There was a clear change in the blood lipids as a result of increased dairy intake, which is important to note. However, the main purpose of the study was to examine the typical recommendation of reducing dairy foods as a means of having more favorable blood lipids. The researchers concluded there was no demonstrated reason to reduce dairy below normal dietary levels for the average person. In fact, there was a trend toward an increase in blood lipids on of almost all of the measured fats for the reduced dairy group.

It seems like the answer is moderation. If you’re eating six or more servings per day of dairy foods, it’s time to cut back. However, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to cut out dairy to reduce blood lipids.


1. Jocelyne Benatar, et. al., “The effects of changing dairy intake on trans and saturated fatty acid levels- results from a randomized controlled study,” Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:32

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