"The Big FAT Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" by Nina Teicholz is meticulously researched (there are 60 pages of notes and an almost 50 page bibliography). This is a nonfiction book that reads like an adventure story. And in many ways, it is like an adventure story. It's filled with fiction -- the fiction that the author claims was told to the American public for decades about misinterpreted and poorly crafted scientific studies about nutrition.
It's also a book that turns around everything that Americans have been told for the last sixty years -- you will find the information almost impossible to believe.
I believe it. Follow Teicholz on the journey from the first misinterpreted diet study through many subsequent studies that all lead to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, it's a conclusion that was never made public until recently. Decades ago, the book claims, misguided scientists, physicians and politicians all wanted to "fix" the ever-growing problem of obesity and heart disease in America. The author is confident that the conclusions they came to were horribly wrong.
She points out that that's why the health of Americans continues to decline even though we have cut fat and eat more carbohydrates than ever. It turns out, she says, that carbohydrates are what cause obesity and heart disease, along with other health problems.
I'll admit to starting this book with a bias. After decades of trying to lose weight with low-fat diets, Weight Watchers, and other methods, the way I was finally able to lose the weight and keep it off was through the Atkins diet. Yes, I can eat a huge steak or a large hamburger (hold the bun) and still lose weight. I can have whipped cream (sweetened with a bit of stevia) with a few berries for dessert and still lose weight. Many readers are probably shuddering right now. Well, after you read this book, you'll be shaking your head instead -- shaking your head in amazement.
According to Teicholz, eating saturated fat is healthy. Eating saturated fat not only raises the good cholesterol (HDL), it also lowers the bad part of the LDL cholesterol (recently discovered by nutritional researcher Ronald Krauss). "He found that when people ate more total and saturated fats instead of carbohydrates, there was an increase in the large 'good' type of LDL, while the small, dense LDL, the kind that was associated with heart disease, went down."
The AHA, which for over 20 years recommended margarine (with hydrogenated fats) over butter, refused for decades to even consider any scientific evidence that their low-fat diet recommendations might be making Americans sicker.
Teicholz states in the conclusion, "How is it possible that so many esteemed authorities could have made such an error?" She says it wasn't done out of malice, but rather out of a series of mistakes, personal ambition, politics and greed. "This original mistake by low-fat diet proponents has been compounded over the years in a number of ways: by billions of dollars spent trying to prove the hypotheses, by vested interests lining up behind it, by research careers coming to depend on it. Biases developed and hardened. Researchers quoted inadequate studies back and forth to each other, confirming their biases, as if in a hall of mirrors. Critics were sidelined and silenced."
In some ways, this book is scarier than any Stephen King horror story because of its claim that the AHA (American Heart Association) ignored years of science and research showing that carbohydrates actually cause diabetes, obesity and heart problems. The American public was hoodwinked for decades, and what suffered was our health. Don't take my word for it. Read the book. It's a nonfiction book you won't be able to put down.
For another recent release regarding carbohydrates and why they aren't the healthy choice, read "The Grain Brain" by Dr. David Perlmutter.
Why five stars? This amazing, fact-filled book lifts the veil of secrecy about decades of cover-up about what we should REALLY be eating.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Simon and Schuster, for review purposes.
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