Does Eating Dairy Foods Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure?

  • Article
  • June 23, 2020

New results from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study found that those who eat at least two servings of dairy a day compared to those who don’t had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The association was stronger for those who ate full-fat dairy foods.

According to the findings, eating at least two servings of dairy a day decreases the risk of metabolic syndrome by 24%, compared to not eating dairy. Those who ate only full-fat dairy options had a 28% lower risk compared to those with no daily dairy consumption.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having at least three of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These risk factors can increase one’s risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Similarly, the PURE study found an 11% to 12% lower risk of both high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes for those who ate at least two servings of dairy a day. The risk reduction was greater (13% to 14%) for both health conditions if three daily servings of dairy were consumed instead of two, and were stronger for full-fat than they were for low-fat dairy.

The PURE study included 147,812 participants aged 35 to 70 from 21 countries across five continents. Food frequency questionnaires determined the participants’ dairy consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt. Dairy foods were further classified as full or low fat (1% to 2% milkfat).

The study noted that “increasing dairy consumption may represent a feasible and low-cost approach to reducing metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes and ultimately cardiovascular disease events worldwide.” According to National Dairy Council’s senior vice president of nutrition research, Anne Agler, PhD, “this study indicates there may be room for fat flexibility in peoples’ dairy group choices to include dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt – at a variety of fat levels – as part of healthy eating patterns in the U.S. and worldwide.”

The results from this study build on the growing body of evidence suggesting that eating dairy foods in their different forms and varieties is associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Likewise, previous studies have shown that eating dairy foods from a variety of fat levels is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease outcomes and mortality.

Considering that worldwide the incidence of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and hypertension continues to increase and that those health conditions increase the risk of heart disease, the results from the study give a great perspective of the potential health benefits of eating dairy foods ― from a variety of fat levels ― across the globe.