Alan Flanagan, Msc, Ancel Keys, Cholesterol, Heart Disease

Protect your heart with Alan Flanagan, Msc

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In Episode #159 I sit 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.

Specifically we cover:

  • The context for researching heart disease in the post World War 2 period
  • Metabolic ward trials establishing how dietary components affect cholesterol
  • Teasing out the effects of saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and dietary cholesterol
  • The motivation for Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study (SCS) – the worlds first multi-country nutritional epidemiological study
  • The SCS study design and findings
  • Common criticisms of the SCS and Ancel Keys
  • The North Karelia Project as an example of what lowering saturated fat intake can do to heart disease mortality
  • More recent evidence speaking to the causal affect of LDL cholesterol in the development and progression of heart disease
  • What we can take away from this large body of evidence to make heart healthy food decisions in our day to day
  • and much more

This is by far one of my favourite conversations to date. Cardiovascular disease remains as the number one cause of death globally. In fact, in the US, someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 36 seconds – mind blowing given there is so much science showing how we can reduce risk through lifestyle changes.

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).


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