he nutrient richness of dairy products is widely recognized, but mainly low fat or skimmed versions are generally advocated given the proportion of saturated fatty acids in milk fat. The question arises how to appraise this nutrient richness relative to the contribution of the saturated fraction of dairy fat. We reviewed available data - collected from elderly people - on nutrient contributions by dairy products in The Netherlands, on the relevance of nutrients specifically supplied by dairy products and shown to be associated with ageing-related functional losses, and from prospective studies in selected elderly populations in Europe on the impact of dietary and lifestyle factors on morbidity and mortality. In the current daily food pattern of older adults in The Netherlands dairy products provide significant to substantial amounts of protein and a number of minerals and vitamins relevant for healthy ageing. Especially in the frail elderly it will be difficult to replace dairy products by other foods. Dietary advice should focus on an adequate supply of energy, protein and micronutrients rather than on avoiding saturated fats. For the younger healthy 65 + we estimated that including lower fat dairy products rather their whole fat equivalents, may help to improve the dietary pattern. However, prospective analyses on morbidity and mortality do not suggest that moderate dietary intake of dairy products is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk in this age group. In dietary risk-benefit analyses the ultimate perspective should be the nutritional status, the risk profile of the target group and the place of the foods in the dietary pattern. Such analyses need more sophisticated methods than currently available and applied in this paper. In Europe initiatives have been taken to develop such methods.
- density-lipoprotein cholesterol
- cognitive function
- older persons
- hip fracture