Most helpful critical review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A healthy mix of advice for good health
on June 2, 2013
Written in 2008, the book "Cholesterol Won't Kill You but Trans Fat Could" is part of a growing amount of literature that praises the virtues of cholesterol, vilifies statins and helps people view the root of heart disease in a different light than what mainstream analysis usually conveys.
As of 2013, Fred A. Kummerow is 98 years old. He's a biochemist and food scientist at the University of Illinois with seven decades of experience in the field of nutrition. I believe he's a pioneer in this field who will be remembered as a persistent genius of his time, as well as someone who may not always get the credit he deserves while living.
Kummerow writes that cholesterol is a "life-sustaining substance that has been unfairly implicated in heart disease." In his book, he says the American Heart Association's standards of healthy cholesterol levels are not accurate, and that the focus on HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) is overemphasized and incorrect. The right amount of cholesterol in an individual's body, he believes, is what's required to maintain good health. And everybody's body is different.
Kummerow has analyzed the results of countless blood plasma samples and arteries and has consistently observed that people with both low and high cholesterol levels die from heart disease. His research covers the composition, structure and biochemistry of coronary arteries, and what he has found is that smoking, vegetable oils, partially hydrogenated fats and fried foods should be avoided. Cholesterol, Kummerow believes, can turn harmful if one's diet is unhealthy.
The author's knowledge of health and heart disease is unparalleled, but he and co-author Jean M. Kummerow (his daughter) don't always reveal his research in the most readable way. Written in blocky paragraphs, the information is often overly technical and meandering. Kummerow's book eventually transforms into a diatribe of charts, food facts and research results that cover many aspects of health. Luckily, he includes "Key Points" at the end of each chapter to sum things up in an understandable way.
It's Kummerow's simplistic guidance that holds the most weight in my opinion. He preaches a moderate, well-rounded diet that includes fats, proteins, carbohydrates, the "roughage" from vegetables and the sweetness provided by fruits. Watching your caloric intake and burning off what you eat between meals (and not snacking throughout the day) will keep your weight in check. And a slice of pie every so often isn't going to kill you.
Kummerow himself would likely admit that research on heart disease and cholesterol has evolved since 2008, and parts of his book may be outdated. Still, if you're looking to go beyond the standard lipid hypothesis of heart disease conveyed by so many others in this field, "Cholesterol Won't Kill You" is a solid read. The biochemist's life work of learning how cholesterol is used in the body and how to prevent "good" cholesterol from transforming into "bad" cholesterol may offer people more of a chance to live to 98.