The Role of Dietary Fat in Heart Disease

The Role of Dietary Fat in Heart Disease

The Role of Dietary Fat in Heart Disease

Willet (2012) makes sound remarks on the role of dietary fat in heart disease using the journal “Dietary Fats and Coronary Heart Disease.” The scholar from Harvard School of Public Health explains the experimental relationship between dietary fats and coronary heart diseases (CHD). The journal’s discussion, commonly linked to nutritional lifestyle, creates an academic connection between Willet’s (2012) view on dietary fats’ role in causing CHD and the course material discussed in class. The author explains the extent of topic focus using medical and nutritional methods such as controlled feeding studies based on surrogate end-points like plasma lipids, random trials, and cohort studies. The reading proves that all the techniques listed contain a certain level of dietary fatty elements that directly cause and prevent CHD. Therefore, this analysis seeks to exploit the connection, in contextual relevance, between Willet’s (2012) study and the course material.

Relevance to Course Material

The journal reflects on the historical focus concerning the connection between dietary fats and cardiovascular disease that dates back to the 1930s. The ancient analysis of dietary fats used animal studies to prove that dietary cholesterol impacted arterial lesions and changes in blood cholesterol levels. The journal refers to other experimental research on dispersal and the rate of heart diseases across various populations using the controlled feeding method, which related dietary fat elements, like serum cholesterol, to risks of coronary heart disease (Sizer, Piché, Whitney, & Whitney, 2012). The concept has retained its analytical and scholarly relevance in modern science by incorporating dietary fat-related recommendations and policies that seek to reduce the intake of saturated fats. Medical and nutritional suggestions that proposed the replacement of saturated with polyunsaturated fats were developed from the concept (Willet, 2012). Also, the reading incorporated the recommendation to replace all fats with carbohydrates to combat the role of dietary fats in heart diseases. The position cast doubt on the historical analysis of fats, but the introduction of such experimental studies illustrates the impact of dietary fats that promote lifestyle and diet choice in the modern world. Thus, the reading provides an in-depth examination of the growth of classical dietary heart impact and perspectival mechanism and its current implication on heart diseases.

The journal’s topic conforms to the course study’s 12th unit on the ‘Role of Dietary Fat on Cardiovascular Diseases.’ Unit 12 examines the dietary fats’ effect on blood low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, oxidized LDL, growth of thrombi, and hypertension (Sizer et al., 2012). The unit’s first section focuses on the effect of dietary fat on coronary heart disease by assessing the positive and negative roles of dietary fat. Thus, the discussion confirms Willet’s (2012) position on the need to identify the negative and positive roles of dietary fats in heart disease. The unit explains the positive role of dietary fats by highlighting its ability to lower blood LDL cholesterol. The course material pointed out the difference between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol level in the blood to explain the concept of dietary fats in heart disease (Sizer et al., 2012). The total cholesterol in the blood is stored in LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL gives the relevant risk of exposure to CHD in the body. As such, an increasing level of LDL cholesterol expands the chances of acquiring CHD. The position implies that LDL is the most responsive category of blood cholesterol to changes in dietary fats. Thus, lowering the risk of CHD requires a reduction in LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.

According to the course material, high-fat and low-fat saturated diets increase and reduce LDL cholesterol, respectively. Health professionals recommend consuming ten percent or less of saturated fats to maintain low blood LDL levels. In addition, the professionals recommend that people with the highest LDL levels consume saturated fats levels below seven percent (Sizer et al., 2012). The fats raise the level of LDL cholesterol while lowering HDL cholesterols. The level of HDL contrasts in place of saturated fats. The level is more realistic in fatty acids sources, such as peanut butter, cookies, fried fries, chips, and crackers, among others. Thus, these sources of food, among other factors, collectively influence the level of LDL in connection with CHD.

The course material provides a substitutional approach to realizing low LDL. The work offers an analytic foundation for Willet’ (2012) topic. The discussions on the elimination of fatty diets imply introducing saturated fats to counter the occurrence of CHD (Mozaffarian, 2016). In addition to encouraging the intake of polyunsaturated fats, the course material recommends substituting fatty diets with carbohydrates as they reduce the level of LDL cholesterols. However, the diets lower the level of HDL cholesterol, which, in turn, increases blood triglyceride (Heart Foundation, 2009). The blood triglyceride formed increases the risks of CHD. Moreover, the unbalanced intake of the elements may neutralize each other, thereby maintaining an existing level of cholesterol and CHD. The different types of carbohydrates possess various effects on heart diseases. Therefore, the dietary use of the carbohydrates requires a keen assessment to achieve the anticipated result; otherwise, the process may fail to prevent CHD.

Furthermore, the course material guides the journal’s view that the body can produce the majority of the cholesterol needed. The body produces three-thirds of natural cholesterol hence utilizes only a quarter of dietary cholesterol. As such, dietary cholesterol has the lowest impact on the blood cholesterol level (Sizer et al., 2012). Foodstuffs with high quantities of saturated fats increase the level of dietary cholesterol and vice versa. The level of cholesterol helps to reduce LDL in conjunction with viscous fibers. Also, fibers can lower the level of cholesterol using bacterial fermentation, which forms fatty acids that reduce both natural and dietary cholesterol (DiNicolantonio, Lucan, & O’Keefe, 2016). The view is an essential source of knowledge for understanding the process of cholesterol production and balance in the body. Therefore, the course material is an excellent source of information as it is reflective of Willet’s (2012) work.

Critical Presentation of the Journal

Willet’s (2012) study on the role of dietary fats on coronary heart disease provides a step-by-step clarification of its argument. The study begins by focusing on the classical diet-heart hypothesis and any view related to the analogy (Willet, 2012). The classical diet-heart hypothesis holds that the excess consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol increases the level of serum cholesterol, which causes atheromatous plaques (Willet, 2012). Also, the low consumption of polyunsaturated fats raises the level of serum cholesterol in the body. Increased collection of the elements triggers higher plaques that constrict the coronary arteries, which reduce the flow of blood to the heart muscles hence causing myocardial infarction (Keogh & Clifton, 2017). The condition relates to sudden chest pain that is untraceable to progressive health conditions that have developed over time. Some of the complications are viewed as mechanistic pathways that significantly impact the cause of coronary heart disease. Moreover, the study reviews the causes of CHD concerning cholesterol production and the inclusive impact of thrombosis, hypertension, insulin resistance, endothelial function, inflammation, and arrhythmia (Willet, 2012). The pathways contribute significantly to the body’s dietary health system. As such, a causality analysis of either pathway cannot indicate the role of the dietary fat. The study focuses on explaining the evidence-based relationship between dietary factors and risks of CHD. The pathway that exposes a mediated effect of any diet factor is a potential point of consideration in understanding the nature and implication of dietary fats. The position gives numerous factors that link dietary fats to coronary heart disease (Kyungwon, Frank, Manson, Stampfer, Willet, 2005). The factors are among the many elements that Willet (2012) indicates to impact the cause of coronary heart disease. The basic understanding of the relationship between diets and coronary heart disease can include one or more dietary factors as the primary or secondary cause of CHD. The study shows an intermediary relationship between diet choice and risks of exposure to heart disease. For instance, diet choices are associated with blood pressure, thrombotic tendency, cardiac rhythm, lipid levels, and other health risks that exposes people to coronary heart disease.  

The inclusion of the potential pathways contradicts the course material. The material fails to explain the chances of other diet factors, other than dietary fats, causing CHD. Nevertheless, the argument provides a better understanding of the causes of CHD concerning the state of the blood arteries (Willet, 2012). The author recognizes that narrowing of the arteries may result from decades of occurrence of any pathway factor. Thus, the author’s recommendation for an in-depth study of the role of dietary fats on heart disease is sound and applicable to the course. 

Willet’s study makes an assimilatory conclusive discussion to the course material. However, Willet reviews the concepts more broadly than unit 12. For instance, unit12 fails to argue for the imbalance between the energy absorbed and used by the body as an associated factor that causes CHD. Such discussions are vital since they expand the scope and understanding of the course by incorporating experimental and trial studies. As such, the journal provides real evidence through randomized trials, controlled feeding studies, conceptualized observation, and limited random experiments that show the role of dietary fats in causing and preventing coronary heart disease. The study further incorporates the course material’s view on fatty acids found in vegetables that significantly impact CHD. In addition, the inclusion of the reduction effect of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats replicates the views of the course material with a more positive inclination towards polyunsaturated fats to reduce risks of CHD. The discussions depict the relevance of Willet’s journal to the study material. Therefore, the journal is relevant to the course material hence should be incorporated in studying the role of dietary fats in heart disease.


DiNicolantonio, J. J., Lucan, S. C., & O’Keefe, J. H. (2016). The evidence for saturated fat and for sugar related to coronary heart disease. Progress in cardiovascular diseases, 58(5), 464-472. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4856550/

Heart Foundation. (2009). Summary of evidence: Dietary fats and dietary cholesterol for cardiovascular health. Heart Foundation. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/publications/Dietary-fats-summary-evidence.pdf

Keogh, J., & Clifton, P. (2017). Dietary fats and cardiovascular disease outcomes: an evidence check. Sax Institute for the National Heart Foundation. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/For_professionals/Evidence_Check_2017_Dietary_fats_and_cardiovascular_disease.pdf

Kyungwon O., Frank B., Manson J., Stampfer M., & Willet W. C. (2005). Dietary fat intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women: 20 years of follow-up of the nurses’ health study. American Journal of Epidemiology. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Vol. 161, No.7, USA. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/96f3/9a4bfd42af16449f5176a09e2a6627226ecc.pdf

Mozaffarian, D. (2016). Dietary and policy priorities for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity: A comprehensive review. Circulation, 133(2), 187-225. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018585

Sizer, F. S., Piché, L. A., Whitney, E. N., & Whitney, E. (2012). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies. Cengage Learning. (Course Material)

Willet, W. C. (2012). Dietary fats and coronary heart disease. Journal of International Medicine. Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA02115, USA. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2012.02553.x


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