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Inconsistent findings have been reported regarding the influence of dairy food consumption on risk for
cardiovascular disease, particularly with regard to the fat content of dairy food. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between dairy food consumption and ideal cardiovascular health, as recently defined by the American Heart Association (AHA). Data were analyzed from 972 participants in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) in the USA. Self-reported intakes of milk, cheese, yogurt, dairy desserts, ice-cream and cream were obtained from a food frequency questionnaire. Four health behaviors (smoking, body mass index, physical activity, diet), and three health factors (total cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose) were measured. A total Cardiovascular Health Score (CHS) was determined by summing the total number of health metrics at ideal levels. Analyses were conducted to examine intakes of individual dairy products and total dairy food in relation to the CHS and to each individual health metric. Yogurt, milk and total dairy food intakes were positively associated with
cardiovascular health as indexed by seven health behaviors and factors, controlling for demographic variables and total food intake. Those who consumed dairy foods more frequently, particularly yogurt, also consumed fewer ‘nonrecommended’ foods, engaged in more physical activity, and did not smoke.