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The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Dietby Nina Teicholz
Synopses & Reviews
Dish up the red meat, eggs, and whole milk! In this well researched and captivating narrative, veteran food writer Nina Teicholz proves how everything we've been told about fat is wrong.
For decades, Americans have cut back on red meat and dairy products full of "bad" saturated fats. We obediently complied with nutritional guidelines to eat "heart healthy" fats found in olive oil, fish, and nuts, and followed a Mediterranean diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, and grains. Yet the nation's health has declined. What is going on?
In The Big Fat Surprise, Teicholz reveals how sixty years of nutrition science has gotten it so wrong: how overzealous researchers have made basic scientific mistakes that, through a mix of ego and bias, allow dangerous misrepresentations to become dogma, and how scientists who dared oppose this consensus have been ostracized. For eight years, Teicholz has pored over the massive research literature and interviewed hundreds of leading experts to unravel the shockingly distorted claims of nutrition studies. She brings these researchers to life and shows how their ambitions, loyalties, and rivalries have undermined a field of research already full of difficult pitfalls.
With a lively narrative style akin to Michael Pollan's in The Omnivore's Dilemma and the scientific rigor of Gary Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories, Teicholz convincingly upends the conventional wisdom about all fats. Her groundbreaking claim is that more dietary fat leads to better health, wellness, and fitness. Science shows that reducing the saturated fat in our diets has been disastrous for our health as a nation, and we can, guilt-free, welcome these "whole fats" back into our lives.
"A page-turner story of science gone wrong: what Gary Taubes did in Good Calories, Bad Calories for debunking the connection between fat consumption and obesity, Nina Teicholz now does in Big Fat Surprise for the purported connection between fat and heart disease. Misstep by misstep, blunder by blunder, Ms. Teicholz recounts the statistical cherry-picking, political finagling, and pseudoscientific bullying that brought us to yet another of the biggest mistakes in health and nutrition, the low-fat and low-saturated fat myth for heart health." William Davis, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly
"This meticulously researched book thoroughly dismantles the current dietary dogma that fat — particularly saturated fat — is bad for us. Teicholz brings to life the key personalities in the field and uncovers how nutritional science has gotten it so wrong. There aren't enough superlatives to describe this journalistic tour de force. I read it twice: once for the information and again just for the writing." Michael R. Eades, M.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Protein Power
"The Big Fat Surprise delivers on its title, exposing the shocking news that much of what 'everybody knows' about a healthy diet is in fact all wrong. This book documents how misunderstanding, misconduct and bad science caused generations to be misled about nutrition. Anyone interested in either food or health will want to read to this book." Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine
"Solid, well-reported science....Like a bloodhound, Teicholz tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
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.
About the Author
Nina Teicholz has written for Gourmet magazine, The New Yorker, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She also covered Latin America for National Public Radio. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.
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