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Pastured Dairy may Prevent Heart Attacks

A Frisian Holstein cow in the Netherlands: Int...

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Not all dairy is created equal. Dairy from grain-fed and pasture-fed cows differs in a number of ways. Pastured dairy contains more fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin K2, vitamin A, vitamin E, carotenes and omega-3 fatty acids.

It as well contains more conjugated linoleic acid, a fat-soluble molecule that has been under intense researches due to its ability to inhibit obesity and cancer in animals.

The discoverings in human supplemaletation trials have been mixed, some confirming the animal studies and others not. In feeding experimalets in cows, Dr. T. R. Dhiman and colleagues establish the following : Cows grazing pasture and receiving no nutrition feed had 500% more conjugated linoleic acid in milk fat than cows fed typical dairy nutrition.
Fat from ruminants such as cows, sheep and goats is the main source of CLA in the human food. CLA is fat-soluble. Therefore, skim milk doesn’t contain any. It’s as well present in human body fat in proportion to foodary intake. This can come from dairy or flesh.

In a recent article from the AJCN, Dr. Liesbeth Smit and colleagues examined the level of CLA in the body fat of Costa Rican adults who had suffered a heart attack, and compared it to another group who had not (a case-control researches, for the aficionados). People with the highest level of CLA in their body fat were 49% less likely to have had a heart attack, compared to those with the lowest level.

Since dairy was the main source of CLA in this population, the association between CLA and heart attack risk is inextricable from the other components in pastured dairy fat. In other words, CLA is simply a marker of pastured dairy fat intake in this population, and the (probable) benefit could just as easily have come from vitamin K2 or something else in the fat.

This researches isn’t the first one to suggest that pastured dairy fat may be uniquely protective. The Rotterdam and EPIC studies establish that a higher vitamin K2 intake is associated with a lower risk of heart attack, cancer and overall mortality.

In the 1940s, Dr. Weston Price estimated that pastured dairy contains up to 50 times more vitamin K2 than grain-fed dairy. He summarized his discoverings in the classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

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