Eating full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to lead to an early grave and may even boost health.
A study found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death, or heart disease and stroke – two of the biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat.
In fact, some types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers said. It will be welcome news to people who prefer full-fat milk, butter and cheese.
Professor Marcia Otto, of Texas University, said: ‘Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults.
‘In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.’
The 22-year study of 3,000 people found those with higher fatty acid levels had a 42 % lower risk of dying from stroke.
Health experts often recommend a diet rich in fat-free or low-fat dairy, but the study team said low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat yogurt and chocolate milk often include high amounts of added sugars, which may lead to poor heart health.