Increased life expectancies in Western countries require the means to counteract aging and related hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis. Aging may be retarded by exploiting the radical oxygen species scavenging capacity of some milk- derived peptides, but the few in vivo studies performed so far have not identified any specific compound responsible for the antioxidant activity. Although EFSA claimed novel studies in order to establish a cause/effect relationship between the dietary intake of IPP and VPP, two milk-derived antihypertensive peptides, their dietary intake would prevent and/or treat mild hypertension. Some commercially available dairy products added with phytosterols/phytostanols are claimed to contribute to the maintenance of normal blood LDL cholesterol levels, one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular and brain vessel diseases. Low-fat milk products, such as low-fat cheeses, have to be regarded as dietary means for counteracting hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, in addition to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and colon cancer. Some in vivo studies show that dairy products (typically cheese) fortified with vitamin D would represent a strategy for counteracting osteoporosis.
Apart from diseases/conditions related to aging, probiotics (and related prebiotics/ synbiotics), GABA, vegetable extracts, and conjugated fatty acid show great potential as ingredients of functional dairy food. Dairy food enriched with probiotics could be potentially used, for instance, in gastroenterology (intestinal inflammation, Crohn's disease, antibiotic-related diarrhea), as a preventive strategy against infections of urinary tract and as tools for managing allergic disease. Appropriate selection of strain, concentration of precursor compounds (glutamate/PUFA) and other nutrients, pH, and temperature and time of incubation are the main variables to increase the concentration of GABA/conjugated fatty acids in dairy products.