September 2012
Bringing industry the latest technical insights and research on dairy nutrition, products and sustainability.

Review Indicates Dairy Fat Is Unlikely to Increase Cardiometabolic Disease Risk

Researchers in Switzerland and the U.S. conducted a systematic review of observational studies on the relationship between dairy fat and high-fat dairy foods, obesity and cardiometabolic disease (i.e., cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes). After evaluating the evidence, they concluded, ". . . dairy fat consumption is not typically associated with an increased risk of weight gain, cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes."

The reviewers found inconsistent results among studies investigating the connection between high-fat dairy intake and type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They said differences in factors such as types of dairy foods and animal feeding practices in the U.S. and Europe may have contributed to variability between studies.

Based on the evidence overall, the authors said there is no compelling reason to avoid dairy fat. They stated that milk and dairy are complex foods containing bioactive components with health effects that can"t be predicted by looking only at saturated fat content or the effect on a single marker of disease risk, such as blood lipids. The Dairy Research Institute® supports continued research on milkfat and its role in a healthy diet.

A summary of the emerging research on Milkfat and Heart Health is now available on

A recent review paper published in Advances in Nutrition reviewed the published literature on full-fat dairy foods and cardiovascular health. It was summarized in the June issue of Dairy Research iNSIGHTS®.

Kratz M, Baars T, Guyenet S. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. Eur J Nutr. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 July 19.


Higher Consumption of Cheese and Other Fermented Dairy Foods Is Associated With Lower Risk of Diabetes in Europe

A large prospective study involving eight European countries investigated the association of total dairy product consumption and different types of dairy products with the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Results indicated that consumption of about two ounces of cheese compared with less than half an ounce was associated with a significant 12 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The same results occurred with the highest combined intake of fermented dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and thick fermented milk (>156 versus <27 grams/day). These relationships remained statistically significant after adjustment for a number of demographic, lifestyle and dietary factors. The intake of total dairy products was not associated with diabetes, either positively or negatively.

Few studies have examined specific types of dairy foods and their relationship to type 2 diabetes risk. The authors speculated that individual nutrients (e.g., calcium, magnesium), probiotics, fermentation mechanisms or specific saturated fatty acids found in cheese and other fermented dairy foods may provide this benefit. This study, conducted in European countries that have the highest dairy consumption in the world, adds to the accumulating evidence indicating that dairy foods may contribute to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Read more about the current research on dairy and diabetes in this concise report.

Sluijs I, Forouhi NG, Beulens JW, et al. The amount and type of dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: results from the EPIC-InterAct Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(2):382-390.


Fermented Dairy Foods Were Associated With Reduced Mortality

A 10-year prospective study among approximately 4,500 London-based civil servants (35 to 55 years) examined whether intakes of total dairy, high-fat dairy, low-fat dairy, milk and fermented dairy products were associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and mortality. The only statistically significant findings were for the relationship between fermented dairy foods and mortality. After adjusting for potentially confounding factors, results showed that the highest versus lowest intake of fermented dairy foods (yogurt and total cheese, 105 versus 17 grams/day) was significantly associated with a 35 percent lower risk of dying from any cause. After further analysis, a higher versus lower intake of fermented dairy foods was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 41 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.

Dairy intake was assessed using only one food frequency questionnaire administered during the 10-year study, which the authors said may have limited their ability to find associations. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there is moderate evidence that intake of milk and milk products is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Summaries of current research on dairy foods and Diabetes are available online.

Soedamah-Muthu SS, Masset G, Verberne L, Geleijnse JM, Brunner EJ. Consumption of dairy products and associations with incident diabetes, CHD and mortality in the Whitehall II study. Br J Nutr. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 June 7.


A Higher Intake of Dairy Saturated Fat Was Associated With Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Events in Multi-ethnic Adults

A 10-year observational study among more than 5,200 multi-ethnic adults (45 to 84 years) whose average intake of saturated fat was 10 percent of calories, found that each 5 gram/day increase in saturated fat from dairy foods was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The same increase in saturated fat from meat was associated with a 26 percent higher risk of CVD. When expressed as a percentage of calories, each five-unit increase in the percentage of calories from dairy saturated fat was associated with a 38 percent lower risk of CVD.

The CVD events addressed in the study were heart attack, resuscitated cardiac arrest, chest pain, coronary heart disease death, stroke/stroke death, other CVD or atherosclerotic death.

Other studies have indicated that dairy foods do not contribute to CVD risk and may in fact be beneficial. However, this is the first study to evaluate the effect of saturated fat from different food sources on CVD risk, according to the authors. They said that cardiovascular risk associated with the saturated fat in a food may depend on the proportion of saturated fatty acids (e.g., myristic, lauric, stearic) present and/or a food's complex mixture of vitamins, minerals and other components. Current dietary guidance to limit saturated fat does not take into account the source of saturated fat. This study provides more evidence of the unique nature of milkfat and its relationship with cardiovascular health.

A summary of the emerging research on Milkfat and Heart Health is now available on

de Oliveira Otto MC, Mozaffarian D, Kromhout D, et al. Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(2):397-404.


Low Dairy Intake Carries a High Societal and Financial Cost Around the World

Two recent studies document the health and economic impact of consuming too few dairy foods.

Researchers in the Health Economics and Social Policy Group at the University of South Australia (Doidge, et al.) reviewed the scientific literature on the health effects of dairy product consumption and estimated the direct health care expenditure and burden of disease attributable to low consumption of dairy products in Australia. Systematic reviews of the literature conducted during the development of the Australian Dietary Guidelines indicated there was satisfactory or good evidence of associations between dairy consumption and several health outcomes analyzed in this study, including reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity, and improved bone health. The analysis found that the estimated direct health care cost of illness attributable to low dairy product consumption is the equivalent of $2.1 billion U.S. dollars annually (2010-11) — or $11.7 billion when loss of productivity (disability-adjusted life years) was applied to the model.

Taking a health economics perspective, a group of researchers in Europe (Lötters, et al.) constructed a model to quantify the potential economic impact from reduced risk of osteoporotic fracture. The model estimated the number of hip fractures that could potentially be prevented and the costs avoided by increasing dairy calcium consumption by people 50-plus years who have low calcium intakes. Their results indicated that the number of hip fractures that potentially may be prevented each year with higher dairy product consumption was highest in France (2,023), followed by Sweden (455) and The Netherlands (132) — translating into total cost savings of 129 million, 34 million and 6 million Euros, respectively. The authors said, "Improving the dairy consumption is likely to be effective in decreasing this public health burden and the associated health care expenditures."

A paper published in 2004 estimated the health care savings relative to several chronic diseases that could potentially be realized if all Americans consumed three to four servings of dairy foods per day.

Doidge JC, Segal L, Gospodarevskaya E. Attributable risk analysis reveals potential healthcare savings from increased consumption of dairy products. J Nutr. 2012;142(9):1772-1780.

Lötters FJ, Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, Fardellone P, Rizzoli R, Rocher E, Poley MJ. Dairy foods and osteoporosis: an example of assessing the health-economic impact of food products. Osteoporos Int. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 June 16.


Industry-funded Studies in Obesity and Nutrition Were of Equal Quality With Non-industry-funded Studies

A new study dispels concerns that financial ties between researchers and their industry funders may lead to bias in research reporting. A researcher at the University of Alabama in Birmingham led an analysis comparing research reporting quality between 19 pairs of industry-funded and non-industry-funded randomized controlled trials on obesity or nutrition published in high-profile journals between 2000 and 2007. Three researchers (blinded to the funding source) rated each paper independently on study protocol, statistical analysis and presentation of results. Results of this analysis indicated no significant difference in total paired quality rankings between industry- and non-industry-funded studies, or in the subcategories of study protocol, statistical analysis and presentation of results.

The results of this analysis attest to the diligence by authors and editorial staff to assure high-quality reporting standards and to help promote public confidence in the research conclusions reported by industry-funded projects.

A study by Wilde, et al., recently summarized in the July issue of Dairy Research iNSIGHTS®, found that checkoff-funded studies on dairy and weight were unbiased.

Kaiser KA, Cofield SS, Fontaine KR, et al. Is funding source related to study reporting quality in obesity or nutrition randomized control trials in top-tier medical journals? Int J Obes. 2012;36(7):977-981.

Research from the Dairy Research Institute®

Higher Dietary Vitamin D Intake and Status Were Associated With Reduced Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities that, when present, increase an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. An analysis of data from approximately 3,500 adults ages 20 and above participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (2003-2006) found that those with the highest versus lowest vitamin D status, as measured by blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, had a 60 percent lower risk for metabolic syndrome. Researchers also found that those with the highest versus lowest dietary intake of vitamin D (excluding supplements) had a 28 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Lower vitamin D status was most strongly associated with abdominal obesity and low HDL cholesterol — as well as with insulin resistance estimated using an accepted method (HOMA-IR).

Although a higher dietary intake of vitamin D from foods was associated with lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, total vitamin D intake from food and supplements was not. The principal source of dietary vitamin D is vitamin D-fortified dairy foods (mostly milk), which have been associated in previous studies with a lower prevalence of components of metabolic syndrome.

A summary of current research on dairy foods and metabolic syndrome is available on

Maki KC, Fulgoni VL III, Keast DR, Rains TM, Park KM, Rubin MR. Vitamin D Intake and Status Are Associated with Lower Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2003-2006. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2012;10(5):1-10.


Whey Protein May Help Improve Several Risk Factors for Metabolic Diseases

Researchers in Brazil reviewed animal and human studies on whey protein and its effect on obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, oxidative stress and complications linked to metabolic syndrome. This review describes nutritional and functional components of whey protein — a milk protein that is the natural byproduct of cheese making.

The researchers point out proposed ways in which adding whey protein to the diet (most studies range from 45 to 56 grams of whey) may help to improve metabolic health:
  1)    Reduction of blood glucose in healthy individuals and improvement of glucose tolerance in patients with type 2 diabetes and/or obesity
  2)    Reduction of body weight
  3)    Maintenance of muscle mass
  4)    Increased satiety and reduction in food intake
  5)    Reductions in blood pressure, systemic inflammation and oxidative stress

Whey protein is currently used as an ingredient in products such as beverages, protein bars and other foods, and whey protein powder is sold as a dietary supplement. According to the authors, incorporating whey protein into an individual’s diet has no serious adverse effects — and may have several health benefits.

For more information about the health benefits and functionality of whey protein, visit this whey protein resource.

Sousa GT, Lira FS, Rosa JC, et al. Dietary whey protein lessens several risk factors for metabolic diseases: a review. Lipids Health Dis. 2012;11:67.

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Research from the Dairy Research Institute®

Study Uses Scientific Methods to Compare Internal Food Structure to Sensory Perception

How consumers perceive food is a complex issue, and when it comes to developing successful lower-fat cheeses, many factors are considered, including measuring how consumers chew. Researchers at North Carolina State University are studying the relationships between food structures and sensory perceptions to help the dairy industry understand how different ingredients affect the way consumers evaluate texture during their chewing process.

This article shows that texture is complex and requires several scientific methods to understand how humans naturally change their chewing pattern for different types of food. An increased understanding of chewing patterns is gaining importance as the industry develops improved lower-fat cheeses. In these cheeses, the traditional structure and texture must be retained while removing fat, which is a critical element of that structure. These research findings provide industry with technical insights needed to develop new products that meet the needs of consumers.

In order to understand how humans sense texture during their chewing process, they recruited 12 consumers who agreed to be connected to a 3-dimensional jaw-tracking device that measured muscle activity and jaw movements. Researchers observed that firm gels broke into large chunks, which required more muscle activity and more chews to create a small mass for swallowing. Although soft gels were easier to chew, they took longer to swallow because the gel broke into small pieces that were scattered in the mouth. Industry can use these quantitative measurements to accurately document changes in perceived structure as they continue to develop lower-fat products that mimic traditional cheeses.

Çakir E, Vinyard CJ, Essick G, Daubert CR, Drake MA, Foegeding EA. Interrelations among physical characteristics, sensory perception and oral processing of protein-based soft-solid structures. Food Hydrocolloids. 2012;29(1):234-245.

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Some Sweeteners Reduce Bitter Flavors in Whey Protein Hydrolysates Used in Beverages

While studying various bitterness blocking compounds, researchers at North Carolina State University found that fructose and sucralose blocked roughly 40 percent of the bitterness in whey protein hydrolysates (WPH) when used in rehydrated beverage applications. Interestingly, not all sweeteners were good bitter blockers. Stevia, for example, was not effective. Using the bitterness blockers identified in this study will help food formulators develop better-tasting food and beverage applications using WPH that appeal to consumers.

WPH have excellent functional properties, but most also have a distinct bitter taste that is unpleasant for consumers and limits their application. Researchers tested 24 different bitter blocking compounds commonly used by the pharmaceutical industry for medications, cough syrups and mouthwash. They used these ingredients in vanilla- and chocolate-flavored WPH beverages and asked 11 trained descriptive panelists to rate the bitterness of each drink. The panelists preferred the sweeteners over the other compounds and determined that fructose complemented the chocolate-flavored beverages. Sucralose and fructose were better selections than sucrose for vanilla-flavored beverages. Although salt-based compounds masked more bitter compounds, they brought their own flavors to the products that overwhelmed the chocolate and vanilla notes.

Leksrisompong P, Gerard P, Lopetcharat K, Drake MA. Bitter Taste Inhibiting Agents for Whey Protein Hydrolysates and Whey Protein Hydrolysate Beverages. J Food Sci. 2012;77(8):S282-S287.

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Improving Microbial Quality of Whey: Identifying Bacteria That Cause Biofilms in Reverse Osmosis Membranes

Identification of the bacteria that form biofilms in reverse osmosis (RO) membranes is the first step in creating new protocols to reduce their development and improve whey product quality. Investigators at the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center at South Dakota State University have documented the changes of microflora in RO membranes over a 14-month period. This information will provide the basis for further work to design better cleaning procedures that will improve the quality and safety of whey concentrates as well as improve the useful life of the membranes.

Many plants use RO to remove water from whey before further in-house processing or to make a concentrated product for shipping to a drying facility. Biofilms are mats of bacteria that grow and coat the surfaces of objects, which results in clogged membranes. This is a problem in whey processing because it reduces the efficiency of RO membranes, resulting in larger processing units and forcing shorter runtimes between cleanings. The researchers found that Bacillus was part of some of the biofilms, which could result in the release of its spores with subsequent loss of quality. Reducing biofilm formation is an important research area for the dairy processing industry as it continues to improve the quality and safety of its products.

Anand S, Hassan A, Avadhanula M. The effects of biofilms formed on whey reverse osmosis membranes on the microbial quality of the concentrated product. Int J Dairy Tech. 2012;65(3):451-455.

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Algae Biomasses Present Potential Revenue Source for Dairy Farms

Algae grown from surplus manure on dairy farms presents an alternative source of bioenergy and opportunity to lower dairy farms' environmental impact by increasing on-farm nutrient utilization. Biofuel demand is rising, and this alternative algal biomass could create a win-win relationship between commercial algae growers who need affordable sources of fertilizers and the dairy farmers who need outlets for their manure.

This review discussed the feasibility of algae grown from dairy, swine and poultry manure water. The conclusion was that manure, runoff and drainage water contained enough nutrients to facilitate algal growth. Algal biomasses can serve a number of purposes that include creating an additional revenue source for dairy farmers through exporting algae off the farm or by lowering dairy operating costs through using algae for feed, compost or fertilizer. Variable nutrient concentrations in wastewater slurries present management issues, but with careful nutrient management strategies, algal biomasses can generate another revenue source for dairy farms.

Fenton O, Ó hUallacháin D. Agricultural nutrient surpluses as potential input sources to grow third generation biomass (microalgae): A review. Algal Research. 2012;1(1):49-56.

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Use of Cover Crops Significantly Reduces Nutrient Loss on Field

The use of cover crops in a maize field reduced nitrate leaching by more than 50 percent, yielding increased nutrient retention and more productive crop fields.

This study, at La Chimenea Field Station in Madrid, Spain, assessed the ability of barley, vetch (a legume crop from the pea family that is often used in silage) and fallow cover crops over 3.5 years to reduce nitrate loss on a maize field. The study concluded that growing barley followed by vetch significantly reduced the loss of nitrate, a valuable fertilizer, in the field. The fallow treatment had the largest nitrate runoff of the three example treatments. The research also found that more than 77 percent of nitrate leaching during the study occurred during the intercrop period, reaffirming the importance of nutrient management strategies during intercrop growing periods.

For dairy farms with on-site crop production, this also suggests that cover crop treated fields applied with manure fertilizer (a source of nitrate) can be more productive through increased nutrient retention and a longer growing season.

Gabriel JL, Muñoz-Carpena R, Quemada M. The role of cover crops in irrigated systems: Water balance, nitrate leaching and soil mineral nitrogen accumulation. Agri Ecosystems Environ. 2012;155:50-61.

Other Publications

Acute effects of ingestion of a novel whey-derived extract on vascular endothelial function in overweight, middle-aged men and women

Ballard KD, Kupchak BR, Volk BM, et al. Brit J Nutr. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 June 13.

Reducing the sodium-potassium ratio in the US diet: a challenge for public health

Drewnowski A, Maillot M, Rehm C. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(2):439-444.

Milk containing probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and respiratory illness in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Kumpu M, Kekkonen RA, Kautiainen H, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 June 13.

Vitamin D, Calcium, and Dairy Intakes and Stress Fractures Among Female Adolescents

Sonneville KR, Gordon CM, Kocher MS, Pierce LM, Ramappa A, Field AE. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012 Mar 5.

Dietary factors associated with overweight and body adiposity in Finish children aged 6-8 years: the PANIC Study

Eloranta AM, Lindi V, Schwab U, et al. Int J Obes. 2012;36(7):950-955.

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: food and nutrition for older adults: promoting health and wellness

Bernstein M, Munoz N. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(8):1255-1277.

Effect of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on Frequency of Beverage Consumption among Youth in the United States

Fernandes MM. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(8):1241-1246.

Computational analysis of cysteine and methionine metabolism and its regulation in dairy starter and related bacteria

Liu M, Prakash C, Nauta A, Siezen RJ, Francke C. J Bacteriol. 2012;194(13):3522-3533.

The use of carbon dioxide in the processing and packaging of milk and dairy products: a review

Singh P, Wani AA, Karim AA, Langowski HC. Int J Dairy Tech. 2012;65(2):161-177.

"The invention provides a method for preparing processed cheese without emulsifying salts …"

Galpin AK, Bhaskar GV, Buwalda RJ, Donk RK, Harper SJ. Dairy product and process. US Pat. Appl. 2012. Pub. No.: 2012/0171327 A1.

Key Dates
Research from the Dairy Research Institute® being presented at key industry meetings

The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Annual Meeting
Oct. 12-15, 2012
Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn.

Meeting Information

Dairy Plant Food Safety Workshop
Oct. 23 to 24
Syracuse, N.Y.

Register Now

Artisan/Farmstead Cheese Safety and Quality Training Workshop
Two dates available:
Nov. 15, 2012
Doubletree by Hilton
Rohnert Park, Calif.

Meeting Information

Nov. 16, 2012
Holiday Inn
Visalia, Calif.

Meeting Information

For additional upcoming events, click here.
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Dairy Research Institute publishes its own scientific insights in this newsletter as well as research and other items of interest of other organizations. Methodologies, conclusions or findings of third party studies do not necessarily reflect the views or carry the endorsement of Dairy Research Institute.