Whole dairy matrix or single nutrients in assessment of health effects: current evidence and knowledge gaps.Am J Clin Nutr 2017; 105(5):1033-1045AJ
Foods consist of a large number of different nutrients that are contained in a complex structure. The nature of the food structure and the nutrients therein (i.e., the food matrix) will determine the nutrient digestion and absorption, thereby altering the overall nutritional properties of the food. Thus, the food matrix may exhibit a different relation with health indicators compared to single nutrients studied in isolation. The evidence for a dairy matrix effect was presented and discussed by an expert panel at a closed workshop, and the following consensus was reached: 1) Current evidence does not support a positive association between intake of dairy products and risk of cardiovascular disease (i.e., stroke and coronary heart disease) and type 2 diabetes. In contrast, fermented dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, generally show inverse associations. 2) Intervention studies have indicated that the metabolic effects of whole dairy may be different than those of single dairy constituents when considering the effects on body weight, cardiometabolic disease risk, and bone health. 3) Different dairy products seem to be distinctly linked to health effects and disease risk markers. 4) Different dairy structures and common processing methods may enhance interactions between nutrients in the dairy matrix, which may modify the metabolic effects of dairy consumption. 5) In conclusion, the nutritional values of dairy products should not be considered equivalent to their nutrient contents but, rather, be considered on the basis of the biofunctionality of the nutrients within dairy food structures. 6) Further research on the health effects of whole dairy foods is warranted alongside the more traditional approach of studying the health effects of single nutrients. Future diet assessments and recommendations should carefully consider the evidence of the effects of whole foods alongside the evidence of the effects of individual nutrients. Current knowledge gaps and recommendations for priorities in future research on dairy were identified and presented.