Does Saturated Fat Cause Heart Disease?

Day 17 of my 90 Day Writing Challenge

Below are my notes on Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast titled “Does Saturated Fat Cause Heart Disease”

Rhonda does a nice job explaining what science suggests are the leading causes of heart disease but she speaks reeeeeally fast and there’s a bunch of science talk in there so it can be a bit overwhelming for the average Joe or Jane.

So if you just kind of want the summary, then check out my notes below:

  • Heart Disease Is The Leading Cause of Death….so it’s a REALLY important health topic to be concerned about. As Chris Kresser states in this podcast 4 out of 10 people will die of a heart attack.
  • A 2014 Meta Analysis (a study of many studies) in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at over 72 studies from 18 different countries found no evidence that fatty acids or levels of fatty acids in the blood cause coronary heart disease. However, Meta-Analysis look at “observational” studies and while observational studies are helpful, they don’t establish causation. So from these studies we can say “OK, these studies seem to suggest that saturated fat does not cause heart disease but they don’t show what does.
  • Randomized Clinical Trials help to establish causation. In a 2016  a randomized controlled trial involving 38 men in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that in comparison to a diet low in sat fat and high in refined carbohydrate a diet high on sat fat and low in refined sugar and processed foods not only didn’t seem to cause heart disease it reduced fat storage in both the liver and heart,  improved triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin sensitivity and lowered blood pressure – all factors that show a trend toward reduction in heart disease. The difference? A Diet low in refined sugar and/or processed foods leads to a reduction in heart disease.
  • LDL can be large and buoyant or small and dense. Small dense is the bad kind. When the particles are smaller they are less likely to be absorbed. Therefore they circulate through the blood for a longer period of time and therefore the particles have a higher chance of oxidation which leads to plaque formation. 
  • Wouldn’t it be great if you could find out what ldl particle size is predominantly floating around in your arteries? Well you can – test is called the ion mobility test and is available from quest diagnostics and other labs
  • Genetics make it hard if not impossible to come up with a diet that rules them all. Where your ancestors lived probably have a lot to do with how your body responds to certain foods. Variations in our genes that make them operate differently than similar versions in other members of the human population are known as genetic polymorphisms. 
  • Gut bacteria have an effect on glucose response
  • Genetics, microbiome and other lifestyle factors like sleep and exercise affect how different foods/macronutrients affect blood glucose response. These matter more than glycemic index of foods 
  • 2 major reprocussions to the guidelines that encouraged people to reduce sat fat intake. First people increases refined carbs and processes foods. But more destructive was the appearance of hydrogenated oils or trans fats like margarine. They are deadly – literally. They significantly increase the risk of heart disease in small amounts. 
  • Every time you make new cell immune liver brain etc you need fatty acids and cholesterol because they make up the membrane that encapsulates all the contents of the cell.
  • When trans fats get incorporated into the cell they are rigid and they make the cell really stiff. When this happens in epithelial cells that line the arteries they make the artery stiff and increases heart disease risk. 2015 FDA mandated trans fats pulled off all shelves but Food companies given 3 years to pull all trans fats off shelves so still have some time on the shelves. 
  • Refined foods and refined sugar = increase in small dense Ldl and inflammation – great recipe for heart disease. 
  • Increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose has been linked to a 35% greater risk of heart attack and fatal heart disease
  • Another study over 400,000 people found those w highest intake of refined sugar had 4 fold increase in heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes 
  • Consumption of refined sugar changes neurons in the brain
  • She mentions a bunch of associations of sugar to all kinds of stiff st 20 min in 
  • Higher consumption of hfcs was shown to impair the brains ability to repair itself in rat studies 

Rhonda Patrick’s interview w Peter Attia

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