First author Susanna Larsson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said at the beginning of the study participants were free of heart disease, stroke and cancer. All completed a 96-item food-and-beverage questionnaire to determine dietary habits.
During the 10-year follow-up period, 4,089 strokes occurred -- 1,680 in women and 2,409 in men.
The study published in the journal Stroke found those who ate low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese had a 12-percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate high-fat dairy foods.
The benefits of low-fat dairy foods were likely due to the calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin D and their potential effect on blood pressure, Larsson said.
"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," Larsson said in a statement.