Fatty acid in dairy products may reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Given the high fat content of dairy products, many obese individuals and those who are at risk for type 2 diabetes tend to stay away from these foods. However, a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health has found that some dairy fat may actually reduce diabetes risk.

Reporting in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers said that recent epidemiological evidence has shown that diets rich in dairy products appear to lower a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Their findings support and help explain this association.

The team followed a group of nearly 4,000 participants for a period of 20 years. During this time, they took measure of cardiovascular risk and examined blood levels of fatty acids. They found that individuals who had the highest levels of the dairy fat trans-palmitoleic acid were 60 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

"The magnitude of this association is striking," said Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study. "This represents an almost three-fold difference in risk of developing diabetes among individuals with the highest blood levels of this fatty acid."