If you've stopped by at all in the past year, you know that my dearly beloved is now on a heart-friendly diet. That is a lot harder than it sounds, salads notwithstanding. Example: There just plain is no good substitute for real, good old fashioned butter. There might be a tub margarine that has a close enough flavor, but nothing works quite the same for sauteeing, or for baking.
So, one fine Saturday I was reading my Weekend Wall Street Journal, and on the front of the Review section there was an enormous article about the debate between animal fats and other fats, etc. A week or 2 later, there was a similar article in Time Magazine, stating that fat is not such a villain. Given both of these articles, I ordered this book, and have spent a couple of months reading it.
THE BIG FAT SURPRISE
By Nina Teicholz
Ancel Keys is the father of the American Heart Association's accepted diet. This book traces the beginnings of that diet, from his research (which was flawed) through the acceptance of the premise that people should not consume cholesterol from animals. This was a reversal of his earlier research, which had concluded that consumption of 3000 mg of cholesterol per day didn't significantly raise serum cholesterol, although his reasons for that were not made clear. The author traces this recommendation from its beginnings through the changes that have come about in commercial food preparation as a result.
I can't begin to do justice to a summary of this book. I spent 2 months reading it, because there were many studies cited, and I tried to at least look up every one of them, despite the fact that I'm not qualified to properly analyze them. One thing that I did take away from this book is that the "Obesity Sextette" as it was called in the early 1900s - heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, gallstones and diabetes - rose dramatically starting around 1900, when people started using more plant based fats, sugars and carbohydrates. Actually, I'm now cooking in a state of confusion.
I wasn't certain how qualified Nina Teicholz was to write this book, which evidently began as a research assignment by Gourmet Magazine, for which she was a writer, into trans fats (which raise triglyceride levels in the blood, a big indicator of heart problems), starting in 2004. But she studied biology at Yale and Stanford, and earned a graduate degree from Oxford, thus I'd conclude that she is probably pretty qualified to analyze this subject.
If food, fats and/or heart disease are of interest to you, I'd highly recommend this book. It's not difficult or highly technical reading, despite the fact that I made it more complex than it needed to be.We'll see, through my dearly beloved's required many-times-per-year blood testing, how some of my moderate changes in his AHA recommended diet affect him.
This delayed Thorsday book review is brought to you by Natasha, who comes to visit every 2 to 4 weeks, and loves lounging on the lawn!