In Episode #159, I sat down with nutrition scientist Alan Flanagan to take a deep dive into the history of the diet-heart hypothesis, with emphasis on the work of Ancel Keys. We discussed the context for researching heart disease after World War II and the motivation for Ancel Keys’s 1958 Seven Countries Study – the world’s first multi-country nutritional epidemiological study. We also covered the North Karelia Project (a Finland-based, long-term project that aimed to reduce cardiovascular risk through lifestyle changes) and more recent evidence of the causal effect of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the development and progression of heart disease.
This is one of my favourite conversations to date. Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death globally. In fact, in the US, someone dies of cardiovascular disease every thirty-six seconds, which is mind-blowing given there is so much scientific evidence showing how we can reduce this risk through lifestyle changes. It’s probably a little more in depth than other episodes, but towards the end we summarise the key takeaways from a practical point of view (i.e., what foods to eat more and less of).
For more from Alan Flanagan, check out Episode #225, #227, and #231.
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- Alinea Nutrition
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- Guidelines/position statements:
- Mendelian randomisation studies: