In The Big Fat Surprise, investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health.
For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner it must be because we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? What if the very foods we’ve been denying ourselves—the creamy cheeses, the sizzling steaks—are themselves the key to reversing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?
In this captivating, vibrant, and convincing narrative, based on a nine-year-long investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community and the public imagination, and how recent findings have overturned these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans fats with something even worse. This startling history demonstrates how nutrition science has gotten it so wrong: how overzealous researchers, through a combination of ego, bias, and premature institutional consensus, have allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.
With eye-opening scientific rigor, The Big Fat Surprise upends the conventional wisdom about all fats with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat—including saturated fat—is what leads to better health and wellness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives.
The author has delved into nutrition and health research back to the 1800's. She has read every research paper published, and when she could get it, analyzed the data collected through out the various studies.
The big surprise is that although the USDA through the "food pyramid" and more recent "my plate", and the American Heart Association, and the AMA standards of practice have, since the 1950s, been recommending "vegetable oils" and a low fat diet, for optimum health, and to prevent cardiovascular and heart disease, and yet there has never been research to support those recommendations.
Impeccable research supports just the opposite, that animal fats, naturally occurring saturated fats are not only healthy but protective. The over consumption of carbohydrates (natural and otherwise) is a far worse threat to human health than the consumption of saturated fats.
We have been led into the worsening epidemic of metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes and heart disease) by the recommendations of our doctors, the USDA and the AHA recommendations. This is a process which began when the theory was first presented that cholesterol deposits observed in blood vessels is directly caused by the consumption of cholesterol rich foods.
The author traces the pathway by which we came to this misunderstanding. There were political and economic forces at work, which continued into 2014 when the book was published. If you have ever wondered how "research" can be corrupted, that is also explained.
It describes a healthy diet, similar to Weston A Price foundation guidelines and (some) Paleo diets. ("Paleo" is pretty variable at this point)
The book is long and detailed with footnotes throughout. The author traces the pathway by which we were led so far astray, and the consequences of these misguided decades. This book contains powerful information for those of us who seek to understand for ourselves how to have the health and vigor Weston A Price observed in the first half of the 20th century, in peoples who had not yet been reached by industrialized food.
I have not read this book. However, my housemate, who practically never reads anything besides daily newspapers and magazines, was some how made aware of this book, and thought the idea was interesting enough that they actually got the book from the library and then read it all the way through.
Any book that gets them that abnormally interested in book reading deserves high praise.
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