Whether you use it to dunk cookies or pour it in your coffee or tea, drinking milk is part of many Americans' daily routines. And fortunately, that may not be a problem for people struggling with high cholesterol after all.
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Reading and published in the May 2021 volume of the International Journal of Obesity reviewed the milk consumption of 1,904,220 adults. Among these individuals, those who had a specific genetic variation associated with the consumption of milk actually had lower serum cholesterol levels than those without the variant.
The individuals who possessed this variant "had higher BMI, body fat, but importantly had lower levels of good and bad cholesterol," said Vimal Karani, Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and a professor of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics at the University of Reading, in a statement.
"We also found that those with the genetic variation had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. All of this suggests that reducing the intake of milk might not be necessary for preventing cardiovascular diseases," Karani explained.
Better yet, you don't necessarily have to stick to reduced-fat or fat-free dairy products to help improve your cardiovascular health, either. According to a 2019 review of research published in Advances in Nutrition, full-fat and fermented dairy products (like yogurt) may have a protective effect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While the University of Reading study may have found an association between dairy consumption and increased BMI, other research has found that full-fat dairy products, in particular, may actually be a boon to those trying to lose weight A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, among a group of 18,439 women aged 45 or understudied as part of the Women's Health Study, those who ate the most high-fat dairy products were less likely to experience weight gain during the study's 11-year follow-up period than those who consumed low-fat dairy.
For more, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Milk.