Milk from grass-fed cows may be more heart-healthy

By Tom Nordlie • Published: September 13th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If we know one thing about fats, it’s that they’re not all created equal.

Some, like Omega-three fatty acids, are good for your heart.

Others are not.

And some are controversial. Take, for example, conjugated linoleic [linn-uh-LEE-ick] acid, also known as C-L-A.

There are actually several types of C-L-A, with slightly varied molecular structures.

Previous studies conflict about their potential to help or hurt heart health.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that one type might have a protective effect.

In the study, scientists were investigating a more basic question – whether dairy products promote heart attacks.

The research took place in Costa Rica, a country where dairy cows eat mainly pasture grass.

Costa Rican cows produce milk with triple the C-L-A content of milk from grain-fed U-S cows.

In the study, scientists recruited almost two-thousand men and women who had suffered one heart attack.

They also recruited the same number of healthy control subjects.

The scientists cross-referenced each participant’s dairy consumption, health history and levels of one type of C-L-A.

Overall, the data showed that dairy products had no effect on the participants’ risk of heart attack.

However, the researchers concluded that heart attack risk might be reduced by the particular form of C-L-A they focused on.

Participants with the highest levels had about forty percent less risk of heart attack, compared with those who had the lowest C-L-A levels.

Does this mean dairy consumers should stick with grass-fed products?

It’s too early to say.

But if you want enhanced heart health, consider milking some answers out of the experts. And the best place to find them? Your doctor’s office.