Have you ever wondered if you were at risk for heart disease by consuming fats? Let’s take a look at what science says about the risks associated with consuming fats!
Quarrels on Facebook.
Really silly article titles like, “Eggs are as bad as smoking.”
These are the things that come to mind whenever someone mentions the topic of dietary fats and heart disease.
I will listen to my coach’s advice and for this article I will follow a 3 step process:
I’ll tell you what I tell youI’ll tell you those thingsI’ll tell you what I already told youOkay, so let’s get to it. I will tell you this in this article: diet plays a very important role in chronic diseases, but I REALLY doubt that exactly the type of fat you eat (trans fats) and in the exact proportion you eat is what decides whether you die in your 40s. for a heart attack or you will be healthy to 100.
Now that you know what I’m going to tell you, I’ll tell you those things.
My formal preparation for the certificate was about exercise, metabolism, heart disease and bio statistics, which makes me a great person to tell you about what we know about large data sets on nutrition and what it tells us about heart disease.
Science almost always starts with observation and so they say, “hmm it’s interesting,” and so they repeat that observation until you can formulate a very specific question, also known as a hypothesis. So let’s start there, with observation.
Most of the “saturated fats cause heart disease” stories rely on observation *. When we take all the observations we’ve made about dietary fats and heart disease, we actually know that. When you look at the observation data, it’s total nonsense.
Depending on which population you look at, how you define saturated fats (not all studies define them in the same way), how you measure their intake, what type of analysis you do, the time period of the population you study, and how well you control confusing variables, you can figure out the association you want.
There are many documents showing that saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. And there are also many documents showing that saturated fats are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. And there are other documents that do not show any connection.
I personally would say that observations could support a small increased risk of saturated fat intake over time, but I’m not sure.
This is a serious problem when we talk about anything specific. Of course, he can immerse himself deeply in methods and repeated studies and try to answer some questions and get a slightly better picture.
But the real story is that this relationship doesn’t seem very clear, and that heart disease is much more complicated than just saying in a few papers that saturated fats are associated with heart disease, so we should eliminate them from our diet. We probably have to dig a little deeper.
Feed people fat and watch what happens
Observing data from more people is a great place to ask questions. What you really need are experiments that you can interpret and build a certain level of confidence in terms of cause and effect.
This means that you need to play with things to see if your observations will come true. This means that if you assume that saturated fats cause heart disease, then if you give people saturated fats or take them away, it will cause or prevent heart disease.
Thanks to the tremendous funding effort of the NIH between 1980 and 2000, there are thousands of studies that have looked at dietary fats that can be viewed and that have examined the impact on heart disease rates.
I will save you from the bloody details and volumes of 500,000 words that discuss these studies and summarize what we can learn. As in observational research, dietary modification with either saturated or unsaturated fats also has a relatively mixed effect on heart disease, as a number of studies show that unsaturated fats reduce the risk, while others show an increased risk.
Looking at the summary data, it seems that replacing some of your saturated fats with unsaturated ones reduces the risk of heart disease, but does not prevent them in any robust way. On this topic, I would argue that observations can support a small reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease by replacing part of the saturated fat from your intake with unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats and the atomic bomb
Things are starting to get very, very interesting here. It is also the last thing I will tell you about.
In order for something to cause something like saturated fats to cause heart disease, you need to show how it works. There must be a basic mechanism. For example, you can’t just say that an atomic bomb explodes, you have to know how it works at the atomic physics level to make it work **.
The same thing applies to heart disease, and there are some really big problems with the idea that saturated fats are a major cause of heart disease.
First, we used animals to support most of the work, which is a big problem. *** So, taking a study done on mice and saying, aha, you see, saturated fats do not / do not cause heart disease is highly problematic.
Second, we have identified dozens of things that lead to heart disease (e.g., inflammation, high blood pressure, smoking, lack of exercise, etc.), which means that there is not one individual reason, but a bunch of things that cause heart disease.
Summary (aka is bacon healthy or will it kill me?)
Even as a scientist, vast amounts of data on this topic make analysis difficult. From this vast body of evidence, we can conclude that any potential role that saturated fats play in heart disease must be considered in the context that it is only one potential factor among dozens of others that also plays a significant role.
Overall, the evidence seems to support control, and in some cases it is a reduction in saturated fat intake to minimize the overall risk of heart disease. This means that bacon is neither a healthy food nor a death sentence.
Consider your total saturated fat intake in the context of the rest of your overall diet, exercise, and overall health metrics. For a very thorough analysis of other factors, I will direct you to a very nice review published in Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine.
* That means you’re just observing, you’re not doing an experiment directly, so you can’t actually prove that something is causing something. You can only say, look, these two things seem to be connected.
** Atomic physics is simply one of the most fascinating topics on the planet. You should look it up on YouTube and crush it, because nuclear physics is the one that holds the universe together.
*** This is very strange in that mice do not have heart disease similar to human disease, and this is a BIG problem in research. I would say many more things about this, but this is for a longer and deeper discussion. But here you will find some interesting documents on this topic.
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