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Fats that Kill, Fats that Heal by Udo Erasmus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sally Fallon   
Saturday, 01 January 2000 19:18

book-thumbdownA Thumbs Down Book Review

Fats that Kill, Fats that Heal
By Udo Erasmus
Review by Sally Fallon

Fats That Kill, Fats That Heal is one of the few books for the lay public on the subject of fats and oils. It has sold well and is quoted everywhere. While there is some good information in the book, the facts about fats are so intertwined with error as to present a tangled skein, likely to do more harm than good.

The author has worked as a salesman for several companies specializing in cold-pressed vegetable oils, which explains his bias towards polyunsaturated oils and against saturated animal fats and tropical oils, bias that is highly tinged with error. For example, Erasmus states that 16-carbon saturated palmitic acid is the major fatty acid in coconut oil, leaving the impression that coconut oil has no particular health benefits; whereas coconut oil contains very little palmitic acid but is especially rich in beneficial lauric acid. His stand on butter is particularly egregious. He declares that butter is a "neutral" fat, useful for frying but not necessary, and dangerous in excess—wrong on every count. Butter is not neutral, but a highly beneficial source of fat soluble vitamins, anti-carcinogenic substances and antimicrobial fatty acids, hence a very necessary component of the American diet. There is nothing dangerous about including large amounts of butter in the diet, and while fine for sauteing, it is not a particularly good fat for frying. Stable tallows or palm oil are better.

Erasmus neglects to tell his readers that dietary saturated fats are very important for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids, especially for the omega-3 fatty acids in flax oil that he has promoted so heavily. He downplays the dangers of excess polyunsaturates, even omega-3 polyunsaturates. The result is that many people, on Udo's advice, are now taking dangerous amounts of flax oil that the body cannot properly utilize.

Udo also gives the nod to canola oil, which almost always contains dangerous trans fatty acids formed during processing and which causes vitamin E deficiency in test animals.

His most recent gambit is the promotion of hemp oil, which has never been traditionally consumed by humans and which contains cannabinoids, the active ingredients of marijuana. Unsuspecting disciples have flunked their workplace urine drug tests the morning after a salad prepared with hemp oil. Others have suffered gastrointestinal disorders and psychological effects from hemp oil salad dressing.

Fats That Kill Fats That Heal is more sales pitch than professional science—buyer beware!

About the Reviewer


Comments (16)Add Comment
written by Mike Woods, Jan 13 2014
i have read udo's book, as well as nourishing traditions. while i think a further discussion of the benefits vs. liabilities of coconut oil, butter, hemp oil, and saturated fats is in order and would be welcome, i don't think this is a reason to diss udo's entire book. he is very clear on what basis of facts he bases his conclusions, so is a very useful starting point for such a discussion.

on the dangers of excess flax oil (omega 3) udo is clear and repeats many times that it MUST be consumed along with the proper cofactors (vit B3,B6,C,magnesium & zinc) for assimilation as well as a strong array of antioxidents to counteract the increase in free radicals, which is what causes the danger.

udo does NOT give the nod to canola oil, which makes me question whether sally has fully read the book. he is clear that 99+% of the available canola oil is all refined, which makes it junk oil. he goes on to explain why ALL refined oils are junk, and how millions of people have been using unrefined rapeseed oil (canola) in india and the far east for thousands of years with no ill effects.

i recommend udo's book as a detailed reference choc full of research and facts you won't easily find elsewhere, and a consistent nutritional philosophy which at its heart is not in conflict with the weston price-sally falon approach. i would keep sally's comments on butter, coconut oil, hemp oil, and saturated fats in mind as you read and do your own research to help clarify these issues.
written by Christopher Lanne, Dec 16 2013
I've read the book and I've read your article. It doesn't appear to me that you have read the book you are reviewing... Most of the statements you have written are entirely inaccurate. The fact is that people need to know what they are eating and what it is doing to them. His book goes a long way toward meeting that goal.
written by Sarah, Sep 13 2013
Thank you for this thumbs down book review. I ordered this book used through a popular website and was very disappointed in it, as the information it contains is not according to the information you can find on the WAPF pages. I had thought about passing it on, but now it will just end up in the trash.
written by H'nBed, Jun 29 2013
To make things nice and sparkling clear to us WAPF dieters, is hemp oil healthy or unhealthy for human consumption?
written by Alexander Cranford, May 26 2012
Another thing. A footnote mentions the idea that eggs cause heart dsiease, but the epidemiological evidence shows nothing of the sort, for in the 1950's when heart disease was at its highest in the USA, egg consumption was at its lowest. A similar analogy to the idea that saturated fat causes heart disease.
written by Alexander Cranford, May 26 2012
I have read this book and what I did find interesting was that margarine is far more lucrative to make and sell than butter. Therefore far more money can be spent of promotion and not just straight out advertising but the sponsorship of a charity like the Heart Foundation in Australia. There is certainly a conflict of interest there. The margin for a supermarket for the cheapest butter is only about 5c a packet . It is considerable more for retail margarine, so it does give the supermarket something to make money on and effectively cross subsidizes the sale of cheap butter.

I did not know about chemical solvents are used to extract most types of vegetable oil, that is gently boiled off and some times there are explosions in vegetable oil factories. These solvents could be used as fuel in an internal combustion engine.
The only useful bit of the book
written by DePaw, Apr 13 2012
I skim read this book in a book shop and got one useful piece of information, which is that 0.65-0.75mg of vitamin E are needed per gram of polyunsaturated fats in the diet. This is quite useful to know, but the rest of the book is useless.
Cannabis is an ancient, nutritionally complete, "strategic food resource"
written by Paul von Hartmann, Apr 07 2011
Obviously, Sally doesn't know what she's writing about:

To whom this may concern;

The are no logical, scientific reasons to lower the level of THC in hemp. It is already low enough to ensure against practical diversion towards illegal drug use. Aside from political concerns, there are no compelling reasons to reduce or eliminate THC from hempseed food products for the sake of consumer health.

Contrary to popular beliefs,neither THC nor marijuana are associated with pathological disorders,and over 30 years of scientific studies have failed to prove toxicity, even at unreasonably high levels ingestion. In fact, after decades oflooking for toxicity, scientific researchers have only found usefulmedicines from Cannabis.

Clearly, the tiny levels of THC in hemp and hempseed products arebeing used as a political excuse to keep this healthy potential frommoving forward. All foods have some potential toxicity, and it wouldbe a shame for New Zealand authorities to act like Americans in the United States by restricting the cultivation of hemp and the use offood products made from hempseed.
However, if such arguments are to be aired in a debate on their merits, then they must be supported by results from independentscientific studies.

Unfortunately, for the sake of such arguments, results of toxicity from hemp or hempseed foods do not exist. This not because such studies have not been carried out. This is because the putative toxicity of hemp and hempseed foods does not exist beyond a level found with other common foods.


Jace Callaway, Ph.D.
Docent of Ethnopharmacology
Dept. of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
University of Kuopio
FIN-70211 KUOPIO, Finland
tel: +358 (0) 17 163 601
cel: + 358 (0) 40 725 2534
fax: + 358 (0) 17 162456
Brassicas - maybe they are okay?
written by Wyandotte, Mar 02 2011
whisperingsage, it is true that I have not read the articles about the brassicas. I suspect that cooking probably makes it safe to consume moderately.

Also, brassicas have been consumed in different parts of the world for a long time. Before there was any science as we know it today. Traditional peoples tend to do the right things without knowing why. Maybe there was something in their environment/diet requiring a ramping down of thyroid activity? I dunno, just a thought.
written by whisperingsage, Feb 18 2011
I think you missed the articles on this site about the goitrogenic effects of the brassicas (like broccoli). They depress the thyroid. I love broccoli, so this hurts. But also, I have to be in research for pasture forages for my organic goats and sheep. I don't want to overfeed them on things that are going to depress their thyroids (mustard is a brassica, and they love it)or cause infertility (like clover believe it or not!). I live in a high desert environment, so we don't have a lot of rich free forage here. I have to seed it and water it and work very diligently to keep it alive. So it needs to be worth the money and good for my animals- seed is expensive.
written by C, Dec 01 2010
Hemp and Flax are a useless source of omega 3 in that the body has to break these down to actually access the omega epa/dha, not to mention all the calories you have to take in from those high calorie foods. The best source is fish such as salmon where the 3 is already broken down by the fish into the epa/dha you need and it is provided direct to the system. Just make sure you go for a low level mercury fish such as alaskan/pacific wild salmon etc.
Hemp Seed Oil has no THC
written by shoreline, Nov 12 2010
This last paragraph is completely absurd. Please do proper research before posting. Hemp is healthy and Hemp seeds, oil and protein powders cause none of what you are suggesting
His most recent gambit is the promotion of hemp oil, which has never been traditionally consumed by humans and which contains cannabinoids, the active ingredients of marijuana. Unsuspecting disciples have flunked their workplace urine drug tests the morning after a salad prepared with hemp oil. Others have suffered gastrointestinal disorders and psychological effects from hemp oil salad dressing.

Fats That Kill Fats That Heal is more sales pitch than professional science—buyer beware!

Re: Hempseed IS Healthy food!
written by Laurel, Jun 06 2010
Sally actually said that hemp oil, not hempseed, has never been traditionally consumed by humans, and this is true. Most traditional societies ate nuts and seeds in their whole forms, not pressed into oil. Hemp oil is very highly polyunsaturated and is therefore very unstable and must be refrigerated and kept away from light. That's obviously not something that primitive people could have done. Hemp oil certainly contains essential fatty acids, but most of them are omega-6, which the average American doesn't need more of. That is probably why Sally does not recommend it. I think whole hemp seed is another story all together.
written by Wyandotte, Apr 28 2010
While I don't care to consume hemp oil, I do take issue with your idea that if a food or substance has never been traditionally consumed by humans, it must be wrong for us to do so today. While ancient, traditional and preindustrial people knew a lot, they did not know everything. Most of them probably didn't eat broccoli either, but apparently it's okay for us today? We all have a lot to learn about diet, health and nutrition.
Hempseed IS Healthy food!
written by Bryan, Apr 05 2010
Although Im unaware fo the book shes reviewing, one thing I do know is that HEMPSEED OIL has virtually no THC in it whatsoever and theres no way anybody failed a drug test after eating a salad with hempseed oil on it (especially considering that the seeds used are *not* from THC-rich Cannabis-Sativa L plants, but rather Cannabis-Hemp plants which have virtually no THC whatsoever). Ontop of this when she says hempseed has never been traditionally consumned by humans thats completely false, hempseed which is THE most nutritional food (having every single essential fatty acid that humans need to survive), has been consumned for thousands of year all across the planet!

hemp oil
written by Jason, Mar 07 2010
I am not sure that anyone is consuming hemp oil for culinary or dietary purposes. I have not read Erasmus' book, but find it hard to believe that anyone could sell a single copy advocating hemp oil for food. I will look for a copy to examine myself. That being said, I would speculate that Erasmus would advocate consumption of hempseed oil. Hempseed oil is nearly devoid of THC and rich in EFA's. About 30–35% of the weight of hempseed is an edible oil that contains about 80% as essential fatty acids (EFAs); i.e., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). [ ]

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 15:27