Dairy Fat and Heart Disease

This topic provided the inspiration for The Skeptical Cardiologist. As such, I’ve researched it a lot and write regularly on the fact that there is no evidence that full fat dairy increases your risk of heart or vascular disease.

I’m particularly amazed that Americans believe that low or non fat yogurt crammed full of sugar is a healthy food choice.


Read about the Low Fat Yogurt Scam

Yoplait versus Snickers-Snickers candy bar may be healthier than low fat yogurt crammed with added sugar.

Dairy Fat Is Associated with Being Thinner and Less Diabetes

Dairy Fat Makes You Thinner

The Skim Milk Scam

Dairy Fat Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Heart Disease

More Evidence That Diary Fat is associated with a lower risk of heart disease

What happens to cholesterol levels when you switch to low or non fat dairy?

Dietary Guidelines 2015: Why Lift Fat and cholesterol limits but still promote low fat dairy?


I have written in defense of real cheese.

Some points to consider in why dairy and cheese in particular are healthy:

  • Blood pressure lowering effects.  Calcium is thought to be one of the main nutrients responsible for the impact of dairy products on blood pressure. Other minerals such as magnesium, phosphate and potassium may also play a role. Casein and whey proteins are a rich source of specific bioactive peptides that  have an angiotensin-I-converting enzyme inhibitory effect, a key process in blood pressure control. Studies have also suggested that certain peptides derived from milk proteins may modulate endothelin-1 release by endothelial cells, thereby partly explaining the anti-hypertensive effect of milk proteins.
  • Inflammation and oxidative stress reduction. These are key  factors in the development of atherosclerosis and subsequent heart disease and stroke. Recent animal and human studies suggest that dairy components including calcium and or its unique proteins, the peptides they release, the phospholipids associated with milk fat or the stimulation of HDL by lipids themselves, may suppress adipose tissue oxidative and inflammatory response.

Organic, Grass-Fed Dairy

Finally, if you have the option and the money to buy it, I recommend consuming dairy from pasture-raised and grass-fed cows. The descriptor organic now implies this.

Superiority of Grass-fed, organic milk



5 thoughts on “Dairy Fat and Heart Disease”

  1. What does the skeptical cardiologist think of John McDougall? He doesn’t seem to be criticized like other plant based docs. Maybe worthy of a post?

  2. Isn’t milk a diuretic, which would lower your blood pressure? Anytime I drink milk I urinate more and faster than if I drink water.

  3. Hello Dr. P.
    Enjoyed reading your posts…
    I am 52 yo male, who received calcium score of 151 2 yrs ago. Since then have gone to meatless, except occasional fish, and no dairy. I have been following the Esselystyn diet along w exercise. After reading your beliefs on CHD treatment, it seems like one of acceptance that it’s going to progress; all I can do is slow it somewhat. My takeaway from your writings are: I’m looking at heart stent or angioplasty at some point down the road, since calcium scores usually increase by 10% per year (my cardiplogist said) and I can resume eating butter, eggs, steak and cheese, in modetation, without concern, so long as they’re grass fed produced. Thanks

    • Mike,
      Thanks. I would not accept that your CAD will progress to stent or CABG.
      If you take a statin, although calcium will continue to be laid down in pre-existing plaque and the calcium # will go up the atherosclerotic plaque will change, become less likely to rupture and less inflamed, therefore progression will stop and there will be no need for intervention. (This assumes you are also not smoking, avoiding obesity, exercising regularly and keeping diabetes under good control if you have it)


Please leave your comments. The skeptical cardiologist loves feedback. He reads all and replies to all that warrant a reply.

Anthony C. Pearson M.D., F.A.C.C. is a cardiologist, musician, writer and a regular columnist at MedPage Today

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