A Book Review: Know Your Fats

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and CholesterolWanting to dive into the coconut oil debate more thoroughly this year, I read:

Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol, by Mary G. Enig

Enig was one of the first few scientists who lobbied against trans fats, and asked the FDA begin to require trans fat listings on the side of nutrition boxes (they listened, and that trans fat listing requirement on nutritional labels exists today). This research and information eventually led to their recent decision to take trans fats off of their GRAS List (Generally Recognized As Safe) starting in 2018. To learn more about this decision, you can read FDA Recommends Removing Partially Hydrogenated Oils From Food.

Needless to say, Enig (now deceased) was one of the most well-versed on oils of her time. In addition, she was a scientist who shared and tried to break down the complex concepts for consumers. She wrote this book in an effort to share the truth 

direct from a scientist, rather than have bloggers and writers (like myself) who may share information either incompletely or misinterpret different scientific facts.

That is one of the reasons I'm sharing her book with you today. If you have any interest in learning more about the debate around healthy fats, her knowledge and perspective will interest you.


The Books Pros

She wrote about coconut oil far before it's time -- in fact, she was in the "pro-coconut-oil-camp" while coconut oil was still demonized for saturated fat in the 80s. And she recognized the dangers of partially-hydrogenated oils and trans fats far before anyone else was talking about them.

In the book, she reviews the chemical make-up of the different fat molecules (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) as well as compares lots of different kinds of oils.

At the end of the day, this book clearly supports natural oil alternatives for partially hydrogenated soybean and canola oil. A great read overall, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the science of fats and oils.


The Books Drawbacks

At the end of the book, I found myself wishing that she was still alive today to weigh in. Since it was written in 2000, I find that the food market has changed a lot. Natural foods and oils have taken off, non-gmo foods have come into prevalence and a lot of what she supported has now come to light.

In the book, she demonized canola and soybean oil by primarily only looking at them in their partially-hydrogenated form rather than in their liquid form. She also only looks at the conventional, solvent-expelled, GMO varieties only (since the book was written in 2000, I don't blame her -- this was what was most common then).

But it's hard to get a read on what her stance would be around these oils as they are often used in the natural industry today -- in their non-GMO, liquid, expeller pressed form.

I can only imagine that she would be in support, when you remove all of the reasons that she didn't like these oils to begin with.


Click here to buy this book on Amazon if you're interested in learning more.

Topics: Industry Trends



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