Monday, July 7, 2008

Cholesterol Won't Kill You, But Transfat Could

UI scientist writes book of simple truths about food

First the nutrition gurus told us we shouldn't eat butter because it's an artery-clogging saturated fat.

Then they told us to watch out for margarine because it's an artery-clogging trans fat.

Fred Kummerow never wondered which one to spread on his toast. He knew butter was better for us more than half a century ago, and he explains why in his new book, "Cholesterol Won't Kill You But Trans Fat Could: Separating Scientific Fact from Nutritional Fiction in What you Eat."

A 93-year-old University of Illinois food scientist who's focused his life's research on the role of fat and diet in heart disease, Kummerow said he wrote this book to debunk common food myths and share his belief that America is on the wrong track, by focusing so much attention on cholesterol to reduce cardiac deaths.

One of Kummerow's daughters, psychologist Jean Kummerow, helped him with the writing to make sure it's understandable for a nonscientist audience, he said.

Fred Kummerow says cholesterol, a life-sustaining substance needed to make new cells in the body, has gotten a bad rap – while not nearly enough attention has been focused on the ill effects of manufactured trans fats.

Contrary to common belief, he writes, six decades worth of research haven't proven that cholesterol actually causes heart disease; and cutting too much of it from our diets can actually do more harm than good.

"By focusing on lowering cholesterol levels, we may possibly be creating health problems in the future and sidetracking efforts to find the causes and cures (or at least a way to delay the onset) of heart disease," he writes. MORE