Dairy Fats: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Monday, July 21, 2014: 11:00 AM
2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Hayley Potts , Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Benjamin A. Corl , Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
David R Winston , Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Abstract Text: Consumers have a misinformed, negative perspective of dairy products because of their fat content, specifically the “bad” saturated fats, and the “ugly” trans fatty acids.  However, dairy fats also contain a valuable “good” fat that does not show up on a nutrient label: conjugated linoleic acids.  Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) are biologically active isomers of linoleic acids, a type of trans fatty acid, that have been studied for their possible health benefits. The two most abundant CLA isomers are the cis-9, trans-11 isomer and the trans-10, cis-12 isomer, and are found in significant concentrations in high fat dairy products such as full fat milk, cheese, and butter.  Research began when the anticarcinogenic properties of CLAs were discovered, then it was looked at as a possible weight loss mechanism, and more recently the research has focused on CLAs’ possible effects in preventing cardiovascular disease.  Animal and human studies on CLAs’ effects related to major components of cardiovascular health including heart disease, cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure have shown that consumption of high levels of CLAs can lead to a decrease in many cardiovascular risk factors.  Pintus et al. showed that a dietary intervention of CLA enriched cheese lowered LDL-cholesterol by 7% in 42 adult volunteers.  Further studies demonstrated that CLA consumption was nearly as effective in humans as taking certain hypertension drugs.  However, current CLA intake in different countries shows that consumers are only eating minor amounts of CLAs. Current negative consumer perspectives on dairy fats need to be changed so consumers will include these beneficial dairy fats in their diet at levels high enough to receive cardiovascular health benefits.  The main way to accomplish this is through educating the American consumer on where to find these “good” dairy fats and how to get their associated health benefits.  The best consumer education will be accomplished through media advertisements and including information on CLAs on dairy product labels and packaging.

Keywords: Fats, Conjugated linoleic acid, Cardiovascular health