To determine heart disease risk, researchers from several universities in the United States and Norway measured the kidney function of more than 5,000 older adults ages 45 to 84. They tracked eating patterns and tested albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) - a measure that when too low, can indicate poor kidney function and an extremely high risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Researchers found that people who reported consuming more lowfat milk and milk products had lower ACR, or healthier kidney function. In fact, lowfat milk and milk products was the only food group evaluated that on its own, was significantly linked to a reduced risk for kidney dysfunction.
The study authors cited other research suggesting milk protein, vitamin D, magnesium and calcium may contribute to milk's potential heart health benefits.
An overall healthy diet, including lowfat milk and milk products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables was also associated with a benefit - 20 percent lower ACR or healthier kidney function.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.