The good stuff might not be as bad for your heart as you think.
After crunching the numbers from 29 studies comprising over 930,000 people, the researchers discovered that eating any kind of milk or dairy products had no relationship to premature death, coronary heart disease, or cardiovascular disease—including heart attack and stroke.
What’s more, when the researchers broke down the dairy by fat content, they also found that there was no link between any of the healthy measures and eating full-fat dairy, either.
Previously, people believed that the high fat content in foods like cheese and milk contributed to heart disease. But the findings here suggest that the relationship between dietary fat and heart disease may be more complex than it seems on the surface.
One possibility: Full-fat dairy also includes minerals like calcium and potassium, the researchers say. And previous studies have found that people who eat high-fat diets enriched with those minerals tend to have significantly lower total cholesterol and lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol than those who eat a control diet—so that may help explain why the dairy doesn’t seem to hurt your heart.
Plus, full-fat dairy fills you up, making it less likely you’ll overeat—which, of course, can male you pack on heart-unhealthy pounds.
“The combination of protein and fat in regular, full-fat cheese is very satiating,” says Men’s Health weight loss advisor Alan Aragon, M.S. “Just don’t eat it mindlessly.”