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Fatty Acids and Mortality: ARS Scientists Get to the Heart of the Matter

Posted by Scott Elliott, Agricultural Research Service Office of Communications in Research and Science
Feb 17, 2022
A scientist analyzes diet study samples in a laboratory

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. That’s about 25% of America’s mortality rate. Heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year from 2016 to 2017 – almost $1 billion per day.

“Poor diets contribute to risk of many diseases,” said David Baer, supervisory research physiologist at the ARS Food Components and Health Laboratory, in Beltsville, MD. “We are interested in how different foods and dietary patterns can improve health.”

Baer and his colleagues have led volunteer test subjects in two dietary projects to determine the effects of fatty acids on heart health. Specifically, consumption of lean beef in a Mediterranean diet and cooking with high-oleic soybean oil.

The studies show that high-oleic soybean oil and blends of high-oleic soybean oil can reduce risk factors for heart disease and that lean beef in a Mediterranean diet actually minimizes some factors of heart disease.

Baer’s study targeted consumption of lean beef in a Mediterranean diet and cooking with high-oleic soybean oil because of their popularity.

“Food needs to taste good! We all have our individual preferences, and we need to find ways to incorporate healthy foods into our diet to improve our health,” he said.

“There are alternatives to traditional foods that are tasty, well-liked, and heart-healthier. Developing new foods do lead to improvements in our diets and our health. Whether it’s a new use for soybean oil or a new cut of beef that is leaner, there are options.”

Category/Topic: Research and Science