INTRODUCTION: Conflicting results in the literature exist on the role of dairy products in the context of a Nordic Healthy Diet (NHD). Two recent Swedish studies indicate both negative and positive associations with total mortality when comparing key dairy products. There is no consensus about how to include these foods into the NHD.
PURPOSE: To study consumption of cheese and milk products (milk, sour milk and unsweetened yoghurt) by 70-year-old Swedes in relation to all-cause mortality.
METHODS: Cox proportional hazard models, adjusted for potential confounders and stratified by follow-up duration, were used to assess the prediction of all-cause mortality by the above foods. The associations of fat from cheese and milk products with mortality were tested in separate models.
RESULTS: Cheese intake inversely predicted total mortality, particularly at high protein intakes, and this association decreased in strength with increasing follow-up time. Milk products predicted increased mortality with stable HRs over follow-up. The association between milk products and mortality was strongly influenced by the group with the highest consumption. Fat from cheese mirrored the protective association of cheese intake with mortality, whereas fat from milk products predicted excess mortality, but only in an energy-adjusted model.
CONCLUSION: Based on our results, it may be argued that the role of dairy products in the context of a Nordic healthy diet should be more clearly defined by disaggregating cheese and milk products and not necessarily focusing on dairy fat content. Future epidemiological research should consider dairy products as disaggregated food items due to their great diversity in health properties.
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