- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 462 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Book Publishing Company
- Publication Date: 01/12/1993
- Category: Diets & dieting
- ISBN: 9780920470381
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by IonaS
Unfortunately, I had to read this voluminous book in translation, which somewhat slowed down the process of reading it. It could be said to be almost the definitve work on fats and oils - the only thing is the book's a bit old (from 1993), so it presumably won't contain the newest information in this field.It is not only a comprehensive work but an extremely ambitious one, in that Erasmus doesn't restrict himself to discussing fats and oils but includes healthy eating as a whole. I found it to contain valuable information. The author is a wise and knowledgeable man.He goes into absolute detail about the structure of the various oils, and these sections don't make for easy reading for those like myself who are scientifically illiterate.Some basic details I retrieved from the book are as follows:1) The essential fatty acids are lineolic acid (LA - omega 6 - and alpha linolenic acid (LNA) - omega 3.2) Flax oil is the one containing most LNA (omega 3), and supplements of this oil can thus quickly resolve a lack of omega 3, but if one solely consumes flax oil then in the long run symptoms of lack of omega 6 will occur, since flax oil contains 4 times as much omega 3 than omega 6. The ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is 1:3, and hemp oil has this ratio between the two omega types. However, hemp oil is quite expensive.3) It is of the utmost importance that we use only the very best oils that have been pressed and packed in darkness in an oxygen-free environment. They should be packed in dark containers and marked with sell-by date.4) He points out the dangers of reducing one's cholesterol level too much (suicide, cancer), and in fact devotes a whole chapter to questioning the accepted cholesterol theory. (See also "Fat and cholesterol are good for you" by Uffe Ravnskov and "The great cholesterol con" by Malcolm Kendrick.)5) All margarine and fried food should be avoided. If you absolutely must fry something, use, for example, a little butter. Oils containing essential fatty acids must never be used for frying. When frying in oil, water added to the pan keeps the temperature down to 100 degrees, which temperature is not destructive. Trans fatty acids are dangerous and should be avoided.6) Erasmus subscribes to Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling's views that coronary disease is first and foremost due to a lack of C-vitamin.He devotes a few final chapters to discussing the nature of health, and suggests that doctors should be focusing on this and not on disease.This book contains an absolute wealth of essential health information, and I have only given a very few pointers.I would highly recommend this book to those at all interested in their health.There could however be more recently written books available that are equally good or even better. Also my attention has recently been drawn to the fact that Erasmus fails to mention the excellent qualities of coconut oil.
Review by LynleyS
My favourite line in the whole book concerns ‘Sunshine and Flax Oil’ and goes like this: ‘The oil is so smooth that you may inadvertently ‘oil your underwear’ when you think you’re just going to pass a little gas’. Funny because it’s strangely specific, and would have to be based on personal experience, would it not?<br/><br/>This author offers all sorts of lifestyle tips, including advice to exercise, the reason given thusly: ‘Our body is made for activity. If there were nothing to do, we wouldn’t need a body – we could just be disembodied spirits floating about.’ Well hell. I never thought of it like that. Creepy (oily) shit.<br/><br/>Tidbits like these make this otherwise chemistry-heavy tome an unexpectedly enjoyable read. Not many books make me wish I knew more about chemistry, but this one did. It took me months to get through because I was trying hard to absorb it. In the end, unless you’re scientifically literate, you probably won’t absorb much of it. Instead, I was left with an overall feeling that Udo Erasmus really knows his oils, and I now have a clearer idea about which oils to buy and how to cook with them (which was the point of reading this book in the first place) but don’t ask me to regurgitate why. I don’t know my EPA from my DHA from my AA. But I’m slowly getting the picture.<br/><br/>First published in 1986, this isn’t exactly an ancient book, but I’d like to know if Udo Erasmus has revised any of his ideas on nutrition since then. In particular, I’d love to know what he makes of the latest research on high cholesterol, because Chris Masterjohn and others are slowly proving that there’s more to that than meets the eye. Erasmus knew something was fishy even when he was writing this book, and I can’t work out whether he’s bothered by cholesterol or not. He must have a proper sore arse from sitting on that fence. Proof of fishiness: ‘Cholesterol cannot be the primary cause of cardiovascular disease,’ he writes, ‘because our cholesterol has remained about the same in the last 100 years.’ Then there’s an entire section titled ‘Is the cholesterol theory wrong?’ Since Erasmus published this book there has been a disturbing campaign to get us all on statins. Statins have horrible side-effects, especially for women, so this research needs doing urgently. I seem to be one of the 30 percent whose blood lipids are affected by dietary fat, so I’m keeping my eye on it.<br/><br/>This book was written at the height of the popularity of flax oil in the West (or perhaps caused it), but I’ve heard from other equally learned people that the EFAs in flax oil are inferior to that in fish oil since flax oil is not handled particularly well by the body. I can’t remember whether that applies equally to ground up flax seeds though, which is what Erasmus is recommending. He's really got a thing about flax. My father bought a bottle of flax stuff about 20 years ago. I remember it because it sat in the fridge for months. That stuff does not taste peachy. Just so you know. (Erasmus didn't mention that bit.)<br/><br/>I couldn’t understand Erasmus’ fascination to the Budwig woman (and in an interesting typo she’s Bugwig on page 320 – a name as nutty as the person, perhaps). That’s not to say that nutters don’t sometimes have good points, and in the end, it seemed like she had few of them.<br/><br/>I’m less and less convinced of the healthfulness of whole grains, that Erasmus keeps busting out with. The breeding of wheat significantly changed the modern wheat plant in the mid-eighties (see reviews of Wheat Belly), and this book preceded the epidemic of gluten intolerances and sensitivity. Not everyone does well on ‘healthy whole grains’ these days. Erasmus points out that no one diet fits all, and even notes that ‘The need for EFAs may vary by a factor of 10 or more between individuals’. I’d also like him to acknowledge that this may also be true for other foods, not just fats, by banging on less about grains. (He’s right about whole wheat products, though, which are not whole wheat at all – just white flour with a bit of the fibre added back in.) For people wishing to follow the advice to eat whole grains, it would pay to look into the difference between real whole grains and the highly processed, fake kind.<br/><br/>While this book is worth reading for the chemistry, some of it sounds far too new-agey for my tastes. ‘Many people with cancer have poor self-esteem, and put out more effort than they have energy for, to prove to others that they are worthy. They literally kill themselves for others.’ If I had cancer, I don’t think I’d like to hear that I was ‘killing myself’. (After that there gem I skipped the chapter on AIDS.)<br/><br/>After reading this book I have made a few changes in my day-to-day life. First, I’m cooking at a lower temperature and am not browning my sausages (much). I’m further encouraged to make heavy use of the slow cooker, and even bought a second one since one is on half the time making bone broth for soups. I wanted to know whether to invest in a deep-fryer, which I'd like to use for making sweet potato chips in coconut oil. I can't get them crispy enough in the oven without burning the ones at the back. But Erasmus is no fan of deep-fried food. I wonder what he'd think of foods deep fried in coconut oil, though. Maybe back in the 80s no one was doing that?<br/><br/>I’d been wondering about the health benefits of rice bran oil, which is one of the trendy oils at present. (Dr Oz is in passionate love with the stuff.) Erasmus doesn’t mind it, but says it’s of no particular benefit either, so I’ll finish the bottle I’ve got but won’t bother to replace it. Instead I’ve become a bit of a fan of coconut oil, which Erasmus isn’t a HUGE fan of, but he does point out that it was unfairly vilified. <br/><br/>I’m now far more suspicious of oils in general, and I’m trying to buy them in smaller quantities, and only in dark bottles. I’ve noticed at the supermarket that even though some manufacturers of olive oils say that their olive oil is cold-pressed, extra virgin, organic (i.e. Ticks ALL the boxes) that they sell it in a clear bottle! This is ludicrous, and doesn’t convince me that they know what they’re doing at all, or that they might be bull-shitting about the 'cold-pressed' bit. <br/><br/>Also ridiculous: to find the olive oil in the right kind of bottle I had to avoid the oils section altogether and check out the ‘gourmet’ section of the supermarket, where I found a bottle of good olive oil, in a dark bottle, on the bottom shelf marked half price because it’s to be ‘discontinued’. If they shelved it in a more sensible place it might sell better. But don't get me started on supermarket ridiculousness.<br/><br/>All this oil business is so darned confusing that I don’t blame people for just picking the cheapest oil on the shelf. The good stuff isn’t selling at anywhere near the quantities it should be.<br/><br/>I recently started taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements, which state in large letters on the front of their (pink) tub that they are for alleviating women’s premenstrual symptoms. This is annoying, and part of the whole gendered marketing game, because the oils in Evening Primrose seed contain EFAs for all sorts of processes in the body – female AND male. However, Erasmus points out that unless stated otherwise, it’ll be the refined, deodorised kind that I’m taking, and now I’m wondering if there’s any point at all in taking EPO supplementation. Again, I'll finish the bottle, but next time I'll seek out an unrefined brand. I've already looked up the price online and was pleasantly surprised to find a vendor which sells non refined EPO at about the same price I paid for mine at the local chemists'.<br/><br/>I’ve decided to buy buffalo and (since we live in Australia) kangaroo meat more often, because I can be sure those animals have avoided feed lots. Even eating organic beef -- which I know has been grass fed and finished – is against Erasmus’ ideal diet since modern farm animals have been bred for their ability to store fat. By eating truly wild animals we’re eating fat in proportion to the way we evolved, without having to trim any of it off. (Which is a total waste considering how expensive these meats are.)<br/><br/>Like the Primal Body, Primal Mind book I recently finished, by Nora Gedgaudas, this book on the surprisingly political issue of oils and fats can lead to a kind of food paranoia. I thought that after reading this hefty volume I’d know everything a layperson could possibly hope to know in regards to cooking and grocery shopping, but I was wrong. I’m only motivated to learn more. Next I want to read that book on fats Dr Mary Enig. I also want to hear more about what Sally Fallon (of the Weston Price foundation) has to say. Mainly because I know they are big proponents of butter, and I do like tbutter… I suppose if I keep reading I’ll find evidence to support *all* of my food choices!<br/><br/>Overall, I’m probably more confused on the basics than I was before reading this book. For example, why advocate the use of juices (over and over again) while at the same time advocating limitation of sugar?<br/>Why advocate a vegetarian diet for lowering cholesterol when you include a chapter on how theories of cholesterol and heart disease are probably wrong anyway?<br/><br/>I would still recommend this book, but only in conjunction with more up-to-date (renegade) science, preferably from the likes of Chris Kresser, Dr. Lo and other doctors in the paleo/naturopath community who seem to be making good progress in understanding the real effect of fats on human health.<br/>