People who consume three servings of milk daily have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality than those consuming lower dairy levels, according to a study in 21 countries. The findings, which were published in The Lancet Journal, run contrary to dietary guidelines for people to minimize consumption of whole-fat dairy products.

“Our findings support that consumption of dairy products might be beneficial for mortality and cardiovascular disease, especially in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is much lower than in North America or Europe,” Dr. Mahshid Dehghan, a senior research associate in nutrition Epidemiology at McMaster University, Canada.

One standard serving of dairy included a glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, one slice of cheese, or a teaspoon of butter.

Researchers analyzed data on 136,384 people between age 35 and 70 collected between January 2003 and July 2018. Participants were followed up for an average of 9.1 years.

When compared with those no consuming milk, the high intake group had lower rates in five categories — total mortality, non-cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular mortality, major cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Researchers noted that the guidelines to consume low-fat dairy are based on saturated fats on a single cardiovascular risk marker of LDL cholesterol. But they also point out that evidence suggests some saturated fats may be beneficial to cardiovascular health. And dairy products may also contain other potentially beneficial compounds, including specific amino acids, unsaturated fats, vitamin K1 and K2, calcium, magnesium, potassium and potentially probiotics.

They concluded that “consumption of dairy products should not be discouraged.”

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