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How Dairy Products Affect Your Heart

A dairy-free diet can help prevent heart disease, as about two-thirds of the fat in dairy products is artery-clogging saturated fat. In particular, hard cheeses (such as cheddar, Swiss, and provolone), ice cream, sour cream, whipped cream, coffee cream, and whole milk are exceptionally high in saturated fat. Premium brands of ice cream are, in general, loaded with saturated fat. Eat them seldom — or never.

Even so-called low-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat. For example, low-fat or 2-percent milk gets 25 percent of its calories from fat, most of which is saturated fat. That’s too much saturated fat for most people. Skim or 1/2-percent milk are the only forms of cow’s milk recommended in general for people who drink it, including everyone older than 1 year of age.

Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, so it makes a whole lot of sense to do what you can to minimize your risk. Although you can’t eliminate all risk factors in life — such as your genetic background — you can focus on what you do have power to control. Your lifestyle is a major factor in determining heart health, and diet is an important component of that. That’s where dairy comes in.

The only way to avoid getting too much saturated fat from dairy products is to choose only nonfat varieties or to use dairy products like cheese and sour cream sparingly — like a condiment. Or, even better, just go dairy-free. Avoiding dairy products is a good way of reducing your risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.

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