How dairy products may help prevent diabetes

Jane Kirby

A natural substance found in dairy foods could help prevent diabetes, new research suggests.

The trans-palmitoleic acid compound occurs in the fat of milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter, but cannot be made by the body.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US have found the compound that could help combat Type 2 diabetes. The latest research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved more than 3,700 people.

They were followed for 20 years by researchers looking at the risks of developing cardiovascular disease as people get older.


Measurements included blood glucose and insulin levels, and levels of fatty acids (including trans-palmitoleic acid) in the blood.

The results showed that higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid were associated with healthier levels of blood cholesterol, insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, even when other factors were taken into account.

Overall, people with the highest levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had about a 60pc reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to those with the lowest levels.

The authors called for further studies but lead author, associate professor Dariush Mozaffarian, said "the magnitude of this association is striking".