Consumption of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in dairy is linked with a lower risk cardiovascular disease. And, milk from grass-fed cows contains significantly more CLAs, compared with milk from grain-fed cattle.

A new Harvard study compared 1,813 people who had suffered a nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI) with an equal number of control subjects who had not endured a MI.  Findings showed that participants with the highest concentrations CLA in their fat had a 36% reduced risk of heart attack, compared with individuals with the lowest fat levels of CLA. The study’s authors note that this benefit may more than outweigh the heart-related risks of consuming saturated fat in dairy.

The analysis was conducted in Costa Rica, where traditional pasture-grazing is the norm. The vast majority of dairy — including organic dairy — in the US comes from grain-fed cattle.


AJCN – May 12, 2010;Epub.

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