Through my research as a PhD student at North Carolina State, I’ve realized that there is a disconnect between scientific knowledge in the field of nutrition and the public’s perception of what makes a “healthy” diet. This blog serves as an intermediary between the nutrition science and the public. I aim to share the results of important nutritional studies which are not covered by traditional media sources, and that often go against traditional diet advice. Thanks for reading!
A new report from the Institute of Medicine opposes the United States’s recommendation to sharply reduce sodium consumption as a way to prevent heart disease. After reviewing the scientific evidence, an expert committee concluded that sharp reductions in sodium consumption do not decrease risk of heart disease and might actually increase the risk in some populations. The committee’s findings contradict recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which urged all Americans to reduce sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day and below 1,500 mg per day for at-risk individuals, who constitute more than half of the United States population. Continue reading
The low-fat diet has been widely popular for the past 50 years and for much of that time it was the default diet advocated by most health practitioners. For a time, the consensus was that a diet had to be low in fat to be healthy, especially for cardiovascular health. With the increasing number of studies, our understanding of the effects of dietary fat has shifted and the scientific consensus is beginning to change. Continue reading
Two weeks ago, I reviewed a study by Dr. Stanley Hazen’s research group, which proposed a new hypothesis for the cause of heart disease. The authors argued that production of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), in part by gut bacteria, promotes heart disease in humans. The group demonstrated that TMAO is produced upon the consumption of red meat because of its high carnitine content, a precursor to TMAO. On April 25, 2013 the group published another study in The New England Journal of Medicine that implicates choline in the formation of TMAO, and argues that foods high in choline should be avoided to prevent heart disease. This new hypothesis by Tang et al. is exciting because it is one of the few to challenge the widely accepted argument that fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Yet, there are critical problems with the TMAO hypothesis that the researchers seem to be overlooking. Continue reading
On April 7, Koeth et al. proposed a new hypothesis for the cause of heart disease in a paper published in Nature Medicine. Koeth et al. question the common suspicion that cholesterol and fat in red meat cause an increased risk of developing heart disease. Instead, they propose that the conversion of carnitine in red meat to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) promotes the development of heart disease. The authors share some very interesting findings, but their hypothesis has some critical problems. Continue reading
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been linked to cardiovascular benefits and reduced death from cardiovascular disease. However, there has been no solid data to examine the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and all-cause mortality, until now. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 2, 2013 finds that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked with a greatly decreased risk of death from all causes. Continue reading
A study published on March 7, 2013 in the journal BMC Medicine found that consumption of processed meat is linked to an increase in all-cause mortality. Interestingly, red meat and poultry were not associated with increased risk. The lowest rates of mortality were to individuals who consumed a low to moderate amounts of meat. Continue reading
For decades, we’ve been advised to limit egg consumption to reduce our risk of developing heart disease. The reasoning for this is based on the diet-heart hypothesis, which argues eating foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fat increases risk of developing heart disease. Specifically applied to eggs, the argument states: 1) eggs are rich in cholesterol; 2) eating cholesterol has been shown, in some studies, to increase serum cholesterol; 3) high serum cholesterol promotes heart disease. Using this logic, populations with increased egg consumption should have increased rates of heart disease. Continue reading