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Food and health

The effect of UHT-processed dairy milk on cardio-metabolic risk factors



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a major cause of death worldwide. Whereas dairy generally is associated with a neutral or a beneficial CVD effect, the consumption of ultra-high temperature (UHT)-treated milk has been reported to increase levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in an uncontrolled study. Our aim was to examine whether semi-skimmed UHT dairy milk increases the risk of CVD development compared with pasteurized (PAST) dairy milk in overweight healthy adults.


Nineteen healthy men and women participated in a randomized, controlled, crossover study. The effect of intake of 1.5 l of UHT dairy milk or PAST milk, similar in nutritional content, was examined as a supplement to the participant’s habitual diet for 21 days in each intervention period. Intake of other dairy products was not allowed during the intervention period. Clinical evaluation and blood samples took place preintervention and postintervention.


There was no significant effect by type of milk on LDL-C (P=0.29). No effects of type of milk were observed in other blood lipid levels, such as total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or triglycerides. No effects of type of milk were found for blood pressure, insulin, glucose concentration and insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance) or body weight.


This study does not support the hypothesis that UHT processing of milk increases the risk of CVD.

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We are grateful to the laboratory and kitchen staff of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark for their assistance. CKH was a master thesis student at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark when conducting the study; KVS was a scientific assistant; and JKL was Assistant Professor at the same department. Thanks to Nutritionist Karin Arkbåge, study contact at Arla Foods, for guidance and advice regarding methods and products. Thanks to Arla Foods Amba, Denmark and Bionor Pharma, Norway for unrestricted funding.

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Correspondence to A Astrup.

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Competing interests

LBL declares research support from Arla Foods Amba, Arla Foods Ingredients and Naturmælk, Denmark but none with respect to the present study. AA declares research funding in the past 3 years from Arla Foods, DK; Danish Dairy Research Foundation; Global Dairy Platform; and Danish Agriculture & Food Council but none in relation to the present paper, and sponsorship of UCPH Expert Meeting 2016 from GEIE European Milk Forum, France. He is a member of advisory boards for Dutch Beer Knowledge Institute, NL; IKEA, SV; Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ltd, UK; McCain Foods Limited, USA; McDonald’s, USA; Weight Watchers, USA, and consultant for Nestlé Research Center, Switzerland; Nongfu Spring Water, China and Tetra Pak, Sweden. He was expert witness for Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund Mjölk, Stockholm 2015. He received honoraria as a speaker for LRF Mjölk, Gothenberg 2016; Global Dairy Platform, Berlin 2015; Dairy Council UK, Glasgow and Cardiff 2015; European Milk Forum, Dairy Councils of Republic of Ireland and Northern, Dublin and Belfast, 2014; and European Milk Forum, Paris, 2014 and financial support from dairy organizations for attendance at Eurofed Lipids Congress 2014, France and Federation of European Nutrition Societies Meeting 2015, Germany. He receives travel expenses and/or modest honoraria (<$2000) for lectures given at meetings supported by corporate sponsors. He is Associate Editor of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, board member of Annals of Nutrition and of Metabolism and Annual Review of Nutrition. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.

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CKH: Participated in the research design, conducted the research, performed the statistical analysis and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. LK: Participated in performing statistical analysis and collaborated on writing the manuscript. LBL: Contributed to the evaluation and discussion of the results, and to revision of the manuscript. JKL: Was responsible for the research design. KVS: Participated in the research design and planning. AA: Responsible for the research design, analysis and interpretation of the results, contributed to drafting the manuscript and responsible for revision of the paper for submission. All authors participated in discussing the results and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Hansen, C., Klingenberg, L., Larsen, L. et al. The effect of UHT-processed dairy milk on cardio-metabolic risk factors. Eur J Clin Nutr 71, 1463–1466 (2017).

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