The Great Cholesterol Myth Book Summary - The Great Cholesterol Myth Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Great Cholesterol Myth summary

Jonny Bowden and Stephen T. Sinatra

Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease – and the Statin-Free Plan That Will

4.4 (308 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

'The Great Cholesterol Myth' by Jonny Bowden and Stephen T. Sinatra debunks the myth that cholesterol causes heart disease, providing a revolutionary approach to preventing and reversing heart disease.

Table of Contents

    The Great Cholesterol Myth
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    The demonization of cholesterol rests on outdated and bad science.

    Human beings need cholesterol. In the body, this waxy substance aids the formation of cell membranes, is used to produce hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and even supports digestion.

    So why does cholesterol get such bad press? Why do dietary pundits constantly tell us that it’s bad for our health?

    To answer that question we need to revisit a nutritional controversy from the mid-twentieth century. 

    The key player was a young biologist named Ancel Keys, who had just formulated a revolutionary new theory; he argued that too much fat in the diet raised cholesterol levels, ultimately leading to heart disease.

    Before long, the theory caught on – and health bodies across the US were soon warning citizens to cut down on fat. There was just one problem, though: the theory relied on data that simply didn’t add up.

    The key message here is: The demonization of cholesterol rests on outdated and bad science.

    There were a number of problems with Keys’s research. First, let’s consider his famous Seven Countries Study, which showed that the nations that ate the most fat also experienced the most heart disease.

    Sounds pretty clear-cut, right? Well, let’s look a little closer. Keys actually had access to data on 22 countries, not seven – and those he excluded from the study painted an entirely different picture.

    For example, the inhabitants of two Greek islands, Crete and Corfu, consumed fat at almost exactly the same rate. According to Keys’s hypothesis, you might expect them to have similar levels of heart disease.

    The thing is, they don’t. In Corfu, death from heart disease was a staggering 17 times higher than it was in Crete.

    Clearly, something other than fat consumption was at play. But what?

    Enter John Yudkin, a British doctor and nutritionist working at the University of London. Yudkin was skeptical of Keys’s findings, so he decided to carry out a similar study himself – but he made sure to include far more data than Keys had.

    When Yudkin analyzed the numbers, he found that there was indeed a single dietary factor strongly associated with heart disease. But it wasn’t fat. It was sugar.

    Unfortunately, the work of scientists like Yudkin was disregarded, and Keys’s attack on fat went mainstream. To the public, the defenders of fat seemed all too similar to the crooked scientists who’d spent years defending tobacco.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    Key ideas in The Great Cholesterol Myth

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Great Cholesterol Myth about?

    The Great Cholesterol Myth (2012) takes medical orthodoxy and turns it on its head. Rather than blaming heart disease on cholesterol and dietary fat, this book calls for a more nuanced view of the causes of cardiovascular illnesses. Drawing on cutting-edge research into nutrition and human health, The Great Cholesterol Myth argues that we’ve misunderstood heart disease for decades.

    Best quote from The Great Cholesterol Myth

    Saturated fat did bupkis – it didnt increase or decrease risk in any meaningful way.

    —Jonny Bowden and Stephen T. Sinatra
    example alt text

    Who should read The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    • Health nuts keen to learn the latest in medical thought
    • Amateur dietitians interested in healthy eating
    • Anyone living with cardiovascular disease

    About the Author

    Johnny Bowden holds a PhD in holistic nutrition, and is an expert on weight loss and health. He’s written for the New York Times, Forbes and GQ, and is also the author of Living Low Carb.

    Stephen T. Sinatra is a cardiologist and a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. His works include Optimum Health and Reverse Heart Disease Now.

    Categories with The Great Cholesterol Myth

    Book summaries like The Great Cholesterol Myth

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial