The leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a condition in which the major blood vessels supplying the heart get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol. Before a heart attack occurs, one of the deposits of cholesterol bursts, causing a blood clot to develop. The blood clot may then block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack.
According to experts in Waitrose’s magazine Health New Year 2019: 365 Steps to a Healthier, Fitter and Happier Year, milk may help to lower the risk of having heart problems.
This follows a recent study which found people eating more than two 244g servings of whole-fat dairy a day reduced their heart risk, said Waitrose.
This included dairy coming from milk and yoghurt, rather than cheese and cream.
Eating dairy in moderation is “key”, however, with UK guidelines suggesting eating two to three portions of reduced-fat dairy a day.
It’s important to eat dairy in moderation, as much of the fat found in the products is saturated, which can actually increase the risk of heart attacks.
This is because a diet high in saturated fat can lead to raised levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance vital for the normal functioning of the body, but having excessively high amounts in the blood can cause serious health problems.
There are two types of cholesterol, known as ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol and ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol.
HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. The higher the levels of HDL, the better.
LDL carries cholesterol to the cells that need it, but if there’s too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, causing heart disease.
High cholesterol can be caused by eating an unhealthy diet, particularly one which is high in saturated fat.
Saturated fat is found in foods including butter, cakes, biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, pastries, cream, chocolate and ice cream.
UK guidelines recommend men aged between 19 and 64 eat no more than 30g of saturated fat per day.
Women in the same age bracket are advised to eat no more than 20g of saturated fat per day.
“Milk and dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt, are great sources of protein and calcium. They can form part of a healthy, balanced diet,” said the NHS.
“The total fat content of dairy products can vary a lot. To make healthier choices, look at the nutrition information on the label to check the amount of fat, including saturated fat, salt and sugar, in the dairy products you’re choosing.”