“I think the big news here is that even though there is this conventional wisdom that whole-fat dairy is bad for heart disease, we didn’t find that,” says Marcia de Oliveira Otto, the lead researcher of the study and an assistant professor of epidemiology, human genetics, and environmental science at the University of Texas School of Public Health. “And it’s not only us. A number of recent studies have found the same thing.”

Hers adds to the findings of prior studies that also found that limiting saturated fat is not a beneficial guideline. While much similar research has used self-reported data on how much people eat—a notoriously unreliable metric, especially for years-long studies—the current study is noteworthy for actually measuring the dairy-fat levels in the participants’ blood.

A drawback to this method, though, is that the source of the fats is unclear, so no distinction can be made between cheese, milk, yogurt, butter, etc. The people with low levels of dairy fats in their blood weren’t necessarily dairy free, but they may have been consuming low-fat dairy. All that can be said is that there was no association between dairy fats generally and mortality.