Stockholm: People who drink low-fat milk and eat low-fat curd and cheese have a lowered stroke risk compared to those who consume full-fat dairy foods, says a new study.

Researchers who surveyed 74,961 adults aged 45 to 83 found that those who ate low-fat dairy foods had a 12 percent lower risk of stroke and a 13 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke (when an artery to the brain is blocked) than those who ate high-fat dairy foods.

Participants were free of heart disease, stroke and cancer at the start of the study. All completed a 96-item food and beverage questionnaire to determine dietary habits. Food and drink consumption frequency was divided into eight categories, ranging from never to four servings per day.

"This is the largest study to date to examine the association between consumption of total, low-fat, full-fat and specific dairy foods and the risk of stroke in adult men and women," said Susanna Larsson, Associate Professor of epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, who led the study.

During the 10-year follow-up, 4,089 strokes occurred (1,680 in women and 2,409 in men), 3,159 ischemic, 583 hemorrhagic and 347 unspecified strokes, according to a Karolinska statement.

"From a public health perspective, if people consume more low-fat dairy foods rather than high-fat dairy foods, they will benefit from a reduced risk of stroke and other positive health outcomes," added Larsson.

"It is possible that vitamin D in low-fat dairy foods may explain, in part, the observed lowered risk of stroke in this study because of its potential effect on blood pressure," Larsson said.