Cholesterol denialists are wrong | Dr Alan Flanagan

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We are reposting this episode because it’s now available in full-length video on YouTube.

In Episode #159 I sat down with Alan Flanagan to talk about cholesterol and the diet-heart hypothesis, with a specific focus on the work of Ancel Keys.

“What was quite brilliant about the seven countries study was the regional diversity, even within some of these countries.”

Alan Flanagan has an MSc in Nutritional Medicine and is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Surrey. He is the founder of Alinea Nutrition where he delivers evidence-based nutrition science to healthcare professionals in hopes to make nutritional research more accessible and digestible.

We have an overwhelming amount of cohort studies, over 60 prospective cohort studies around the world, linear increases in cardiovascular disease outcomes, with increasing levels of LDL cholesterol…”

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death globally taking roughly 17.9 million lives each year. Mind-blowing given there is so much science showing how we can reduce risk through lifestyle changes.

The debate around dietary cholesterol in relation to CVD is diverse, in this episode, we delve into detail and critically look at the evidence that has evolved over the years. In addition to discussing the work of Ancel Keys, we specifically look at the Seven Countries Study, and evaluate the potential strengths and limitations as well as opposing ideas in the field. Alan provides excellent insight, talking through opposing ideas, breaking them down and providing some key takeaways to help guide us in the right direction.

Specifically, we covered:

  • Intro [0:00]
  • Ancel Keys Controversy [2:48]
  • The Seven Countries Study [20:52
  • Sugar & Carbs [45:15]
  • Disputing Misleading Information [1:10:54]
  • “LDL is not Causal” Argument [1:25:40]
  • Anti-Statin Rhetoric [1:35:20]
  • Debunking LDL Myths [1:35:20]
  • Reduce Your Risk Today [1:47:10]
  • Outro [2:04:50]

This is by far one of my favourite conversations to date. A lot of the information in this episode I had included in the first draft of my book ‘The Proof is in the Plants’ but removed due to word limit – if you have read my book this will provide some extra context behind all of the information in Chapter 5. It’s probably a little more in-depth than other episodes but I am sure if you listen through it will make sense – and towards the end, we summarise and talk to the key takeaways from a more practical point of view (what foods to eat more and less of).


Alan on Instagram

Alinea Nutrition

Sigma Nutrition

Eimele Essential 8

Guidelines/Position Statements:

Mendelian Randomisation Studies:

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