Taking whole-fat dairy products may lower type 2 diabetes risk: study

09:37, December 23, 2010      

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Whole-fat dairy products contain a fatty acid that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

People who consumed the highest levels of whole-fat dairy a day had a 60-percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than people who ate the lowest amounts of dairy, according to the study published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Whole-fat dairy products contain trans-palmitoleic acid which promotes healthy levels of blood cholesterol, normal insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity, said study researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"These findings do suggest that we should think of dairy as more than a carrier of calcium and vitamin D," Mozaffarian said.

The finding is based on 20 years of health data from 3,736 people who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

All of the participants were over 65 and lived in one of four states: California, Maryland, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Although they, too, have the word "trans" in their name, trans- palmitoleic acids are not the same as the bad kinds of trans fats that can increase heart disease risk, Mozaffarian told MyHealthNewsDaily.

"The amount of trans-palmitoleic acid is proportional to the amount of dairy fat," said Mozaffarian.

Circulating palmitoleic acid is found naturally in the human body. It's also found in small quantities in dairy foods. When it' s found in sources outside the human body, it's referred to as trans-palmitoleic acid. Whole milk has more trans-palmitoleic acid than two-percent milk, and two-percent milk has more of this fatty acid than does skim milk.

The researchers said that trans-palmitoleic acids may decrease diabetes risk by mimicking the function of a related compound, called cis-palmitoleic acid, which is produced naturally in the liver.

"Trans-palmitoleic acid may be stepping in to function in at least some of the same protective roles," Mozaffarian said.

But he said more tests need to be done to confirm this.

Source: Xinhua
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