Monday, September 29, 2014

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz

As I write this I’m eating a juicy cheeseburger (no bun) layered with bacon and covered in mushrooms sautéed in butter with a large glass of whole milk to wash it down. And thanks to Nina Teicholz’s eye-opening and extensively researched book I shouldn't feel the least bit guilty, but I do.

For over 60 years Americans have been conditioned by the advice from nutritional and medical experts as well as from trusted institutions like the American Heart Association to think that the only prudent way to ward off heart disease is through a low fat diet. An unsound recommendation according to investigative journalist Teicholz who like so many bought into the low fat nutritional tenet, that is, until she began writing a restaurant review column in 2000 which made her question the conventional viewpoint on limiting fat consumption.

Spending the past nine years exhaustively reviewing the research on dietary fat from the 1940’s to the present, Teicholz scoured scientific papers, attended a variety of conferences, and interviewed nutrition experts not only from the United States but from around the world. She describes herself as a “scientifically minded outsider free from affiliation with or funding from any entrenched views.” Her findings invalidate the collectively held opinion about the horrors of fat, particularly saturated fat.

Teicholz discovered that a sizable amount of data disclosed within the poorly planned original studies was limited in scope, tenuous at best and often misconstrued. But it is this questionable data that has been used for decades by the experts to address the increasing rise in heart disease with the establishment of a nutritional agenda that promotes a severe reduction in dietary fat. She notes, however, that over the last several decades we have witnessed an escalation in the rates of obesity and diabetes while not seeing any decrease in heart disease.

There is a great deal more that Teicholz shares in this compelling book that you won’t want to miss. I thought the writing might be too technical or scientific but was pleasantly surprised to find how accessible and interesting this was to read.  

A strong case is made by Teicholz that adding more fat in the diet contributes to a healthier body. Read The Big Fat Surprise and see if you come to the same conclusion. For more on the topic search the VBPL catalog for Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.

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