A large new study links whole-fat dairy food consumption to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. The findings raise questions about current dietary guidelines, which suggest substituting fat-free or low-fat dairy for full-fat products.

The study, published in Lancet, included 136,384 people in 21 countries followed for an average of nine years.

Total intake of two or more servings of full-fat dairy food was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease, a 34 percent lower risk of stroke, and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. (A serving was eight ounces of milk or yogurt, a teaspoon of butter or a half-ounce slice of cheese.) There was no association with butter consumption alone, possibly because the population studied ate so little of it.

This new study comes just 2 months after a study from the University of Texas School of Public Health (funded by the National Institutes of Health) showed that consuming dairy products could cut the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Read the whole story in The New York Times.

Read the whole study in the academic journal, The Lancet.