Brisbane-based researcher Dr Peter Parodi has won the 2007 International Dairy Federation award for his work on trans fatty acids.
Dr Parodi, who has spent 50 years investigating the nutritional benefits of dairy foods, received the award at the opening ceremony of the World Dairy Summit in Dublin on October 1.
Dr Parodi is a world expert in dairy trans fatty acids. These milk components have potential health benefits for humans.
In the mid-1970s, he was the first person to discover the presence and determine the structure of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a major form of trans fatty acids in milk fat.
According to Dr Parodi, industrially produced trans fatty acids appear to be detrimental to heart health, but there is evidence that naturally occurring dairy trans fatty acids do not have the same harmful effects.
"Good trans fatty acids, found naturally in milk and meat, have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years, whereas industrially produced trans fats, like those in hydrogenated vegetable oils, are relatively new to our food supply," he said.
Dr Parodi said there was limited evidence to link dairy fat with poor health. He has published numerous scientific articles which not only counter the view that dairy foods are unhealthy, but highlight the benefits of dairy fat for the prevention of cancer.
"For a scientist, exploring the unique properties and health benefits of dairy foods has been very rewarding," he said.
Dr Parodi’s work in determining the structure and composition of milk fat was so important that in 1998 he was given the honour of naming a major trans fatty acid found in milk, which he called rumenic acid, after the cows’ stomach system, the rumen.
The International Dairy Federation award recognises Dr Parodi’s contribution to dairy science and research, particularly in the area of human nutrition.
(Source: Dairy Australia : October 2007)