The Great Cholesterol Myth Book Summary - The Great Cholesterol Myth Book explained in key points
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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 (343 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.

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    The Great Cholesterol Myth
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    The demonization of cholesterol rests on outdated and bad science.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    The key message here is: The demonization of cholesterol rests on outdated and bad science.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

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    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.

    The Great Cholesterol Myth Review

    The Great Cholesterol Myth (2012) challenges conventional wisdom about cholesterol and sheds light on the truth behind heart disease. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Debunks myths around cholesterol with compelling evidence, empowering readers to make informed decisions about their health.
    • Offers practical tips for improving heart health, including diet and exercise recommendations.
    • Presents information in a clear and accessible manner, engaging readers without overwhelming them with technical jargon.

    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
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    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.

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    The Great Cholesterol Myth FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    The main message of The Great Cholesterol Myth is that cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart disease.

    How long does it take to read The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    The reading time for The Great Cholesterol Myth varies, but it takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Great Cholesterol Myth a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Great Cholesterol Myth is a must-read. It challenges conventional wisdom about cholesterol and provides valuable insights for heart health.

    Who is the author of The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    The authors of The Great Cholesterol Myth are Jonny Bowden and Stephen T. Sinatra.

    What to read after The Great Cholesterol Myth?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Great Cholesterol Myth, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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