Instead, statisticians use models to figure out how much added risk there is to eating too much salt or not enough beans, then apply those risks to the recorded deaths from diseases you might get from those poor dietary choices. It's an imperfect system, albeit the best we have, but it's worth bearing in mind that these are all estimations. Second, if you happen to have an excellent diet, that doesn't excuse other unhealthy behaviors. You can eat all the fiber you want, but smoking and sitting down all day will still break down your body in the end. Finally, risk is just risk: eating one slice of lemon cake doesn't make you more likely to die of a heart attack than if you stuck to quinoa salad that day. These studies are pondering whether consistent consumption of something (or a consistent lack of it) might, all other things being equal, make you slightly more likely to die before your time. When it comes to nutrition and risk, no single choice makes or breaks you—it's about what kind of habits you have long term.