Products made from whole milk, not 2% “processed” milk, reduce risk of blood clots in the brain

A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology reveals that soured whole milk products are more effective at reducing the risk of suffering from brain thrombosis or ischemic stroke compared with other dairy products — such as low-fat soured milk products and cheese, buttermilk, or milk — with varying fat percentages. A team of researchers at the Aarhus University in Denmark examined up to 57,000 Danes aged between 50 and 64 years with equal dairy intake as part of the study. However, the participants had a specified difference in whole milk and whole milk yogurt consumption.

The experts noted that the products the volunteers consumed include both skimmed and semi-skimmed low-fat milk, whole milk, and buttermilk as well as Danish soured milk products with 1.5 to 3.5 percent fat content. The research team also monitored the participants for years in order to determine the relationship between their dietary habits and the onset of brain thrombosis.

Likewise, the scientists recorded ill health among the participants. Certain products had been phased out and new products had arrived on the market during the course of the study. The health experts also compared and examined the differences in the participants’ intake of  both red and processed meat, fruit, vegetables and fish. Moreover, the research team assessed the volunteers’ smoking habits, alcohol habits, obesity, and educational level.

“The result is not quite what we had expected. We had mostly expected that semi-skimmed milk was a better choice than full-fat yogurt in relation to this risk. In other words, we look at the significance of eating the whole product – not whether it is the product’s content of calcium, salt, fat and so on that makes a difference. Of course, we eat all these things together when they come out of the carton,” the researchers say.

The findings revealed that 2,272 of the participants suffered a stroke, 1,870 of whom developed brain thrombosis. However, the research team observed that adult participants who consumed more soured milk products had up to 15 percent lower risk of suffering a thrombosis in the brain, compared with adults who consumed standard milk products regardless of their fat percentages.

“Statistically, it is our best suggestion for the risk of thrombosis in the brain, when we look at different ways to combine your intake of dairy products. We can see a 16 percent lower immediate risk of thrombosis in the brain among those who, for example, choose high-fat soured milk products rather than whole milk. If people choose low-fat soured milk products instead of the high-fat, we see a twenty percent higher immediate risk of blood clots. This may actually be as high as 45 percent. However, due to the statistical uncertainty, we cannot rule out that it is a single percent lower,” researchers Anne Sofie Dam Laursen and Associate Professor Marianne Uhre Jakobsen states in a university release.

However, the research team has not clarified whether the lower thrombosis risk is due in part to the individual nutrients found in the products, or whether the added bacteria cultures in soured milk products play a key role in the process. The scientists also added that the reduced risk may not be a result of consuming different amounts of other foods. Furthermore, the research team has stressed that differences in the participants’ body weight, education level, and smoking and alcohol habits have nothing to do with the lower odds of suffering brain thrombosis.

“But even though our result points in a specific direction, one study is obviously not sufficient grounds to publicly recommend that people change the items they have in their fridges,” Dam Laursen stresses.

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