Does High-fat dairy products lower diabetes risk ?

After years of being cut from foods for their purported negative health effects, the tide is turning for dairy fats. Their link to heart disease has recently come into question, and now they’ve been found to protect against type 2 diabetes.

New research presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes shows that people who eat the highest levels of dietary fat had the lowest risk of developing this so-called ‘lifestyle disease’, which has been linked to blindness and amputations. Swedish researchers followed over 26,930 people for 14 years, during which time 2860 of the participants developed diabetes.

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When they compared study subjects based on their intake of high-fat dairy products, they found that the 20% of participants who ate the most high-fat dairy (about 8 servings per day) were 23% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the 20% of participants who are the least high-fat dairy. Cream and high-fat milk seemed to have the most protective effect. Meat consumption in general raised the risk of type 2 diabetes, but surprisingly the risk was increased by only 9% for people who ate the most high-fat meat, vs. 24% for people who ate the most lean meat.

However, note that all these analyses statistically “controlled” for factors like body mass index and smoking habit, which can independently affect your risk of type 2 diabetes regardless of your dairy intake. (Source: European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Vienna, Austria, September 15, 2014)

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