A team of French nutrition researchers explored the beneficial effects of specific molecules found in buttermilk and have prescribed the fermented dairy drink for a healthy heart.
The research appeared in the latest issue of Gut, a journal published by the British Medical Journal, recently found that certain bio molecules present in buttermilk and other fermented dairy products can reduce the build-up of cholesterol and other harmful blood lipids which push a person towards developing a heart attack.
The scientists, led by Marie-Caroline Michalski at the French National Agricultural Research Institute, INRA, wanted to explore how certain lipids (a class of organic compounds including fats, oils and hormones) naturally found in higher concentrations in milk products can cut the cardiovascular risk in people.
Called polar lipids, these bio materials were seen to reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestine of rodents in previous pre-clinical studies. However, until now, these effects had never been demonstrated in humans.
“While polar lipids are present in most milk products, buttermilk and butter serum containhigher concentrations,” said Michalski. To understand how milk polar lipids reduce the cardiovascular risk, the scientists carried out studies in overweight post menopausal women.
A group of 58 volunteers were asked to include cream cheese that was enriched in milk polar lipids (3-5 grams/100g) as part of their daily diet.
After a month of consuming the cream cheese, the team observed a significant reduction in their blood levels of LDL cholesterol, triglyceride and other important markers of cardiometabolic risk.
These milk polar lipids thus improved the cardiovascular health profile of the women. The reduction in the “bad” LDL cholesterol was about 8.7 per cent with 5g/day of milk polar lipids, said Michalski.
The scientists’ complementary studies suggested that certain milk polar lipids and cholesterol may form a complex in the small intestine that cannot be absorbed by the gut and is ultimately excreted in the stool.
“We cannot rule out that the daily consumption of regular buttermilk for longer periods may also contribute to maintain a good blood lipid profile in countries where liquid buttermilk is traditionally consumed, this would now be important to verify,” Michalski told BusinessLine.
The scientists felt that these findings could ultimately provide a foundation for new nutritional strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk factors in certain vulnerable populations.
A lipid science expert from the National Institute of Nutrition, an Indian Council of Medical Research lab in Hyderabad, said that increasing the concentration of milk polar lipids in buttermilk by several folds would be an expensive proposition.