The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (Paperback)
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A New York Times bestseller
Named one of The Economist’s Books of the Year 2014
Named one of The Wall Street Journal’s Top Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
Forbes’s Most Memorable Healthcare Book of 2014
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 is an investigative science journalist and author as well as an advocate for evidence-based nutrition policy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, among other places. She grew up in Berkeley, California, and now lives in New York.
"Teicholz may be the Rachel Carson of the nutrition movement..."
— Leah Binder
“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)
"Nina Teicholz reveals the disturbing underpinnings of the profoundly misguided dietary recommendations that have permeated modern society, culminating in our overall health decline. But The Big Fat Surprise is refreshingly empowering. This wonderfully researched text provides the reader with total validation for welcoming healthful fats back to the table, paving the way for weight loss, health and longevity."
— David Perlmutter, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs
"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: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Bac
"At last the whole truth about the luscious foods our bodies really need!"
— Christiane Northrup, M.D., ob/gyn physician and author of the New York Times bestseller Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
"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
“[Teicholz] has a gift for translating complex data into an engaging forensic narrative . . . [The Big Fat Surprise] is a lacerating indictment of Big Public Health . . . More than a book about food and health or even hubris; it is a tragedy for our information age. From the very beginning, we had the statistical means to understand why things did not add up; we had a boatload of Cassandras, a chorus of warnings; but they were ignored, castigated, suppressed. We had our big fat villain, and we still do.”
— The Wall Street Journal
"This is a striking study..which may well change the way you eat. I, for one, won’t ever hesitate to order a steak again.”
— Financial Times
"Read Teicholz's excellent book and tell me you aren't convinced she's right."
— Chicago Sun-Times
"Teicholz has done a remarkable job in analysing. . . [the] weakscience, strong personalities, vested interests, and political expediency."
— British Medical Journal
"Thisis the most provocative and assumption-shredding food book I've read inyears.... All in all, a must read."
— Tom Phillpot
"It's so important for everyone to read this book."
— Alice Waters
"Nina Teicholz's The Big Fat Surprise is essential reading on the saturated fat debate . . . Blew my mind."
— Malcolm Gladwell
"The Big Fat Surprise is a gripping narrative. . . Teicholz reminds us to critically question research and, more importantly, challenge unjustified extrapolation. . . Researchers, clinicians, and health policy advisors should read this provocative book."
— Stuart Spencer
"This book should be read by every nutritional science professional...All scientists should read it as an example of how limited science can become federal policy....well-research and clearly written....Teicholz compiled a historical treatise on how scientific belief (vs. evidence), nongovernment organizations, food manufacturers, government agencies, and moneyed interests promised more than they could deliver and, in the process, quite possibly contributed to the current world-wide obesity epidemic."
— The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition