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Everyday Wellness

Jan 30, 2021

We are excited today to have Nina Teicholz joining us as our guest. Nina is a science journalist and the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Big Fat Surprise, which upended the conventional wisdom on dietary fat, especially saturated fat, and spurred a new conversation about whether these fats cause heart disease. 

Named a “Best Book” of the year by the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and Mother Jones, among others, it continues to be called a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the amazing story of how we came to believe fat is bad for health and what a better diet might look like. Nina is also the founder of the Nutrition Coalition, a non-profit that works to ensure that government nutrition policy is transparent and evidence-based. It is work for which she has been asked to testify before the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Canadian Senate. 

Nina is a graduate of Stanford and Oxford Universities and previously served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Nina lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

As a journalist in the early 2000s, while Nina was doing a series of investigative pieces for Gourmet Magazine, they assigned her a magazine story to look into trans-fats. Although she had no idea what trans-fats were at the time, she took the piece on, and interviewed people about trans-fats. What surprised her was that when she started talking to research scientists, she discovered that as early as the 1970s, people had already started talking about the potential dangers of trans-fats. Nina was told about the researcher’s experiences of attempts to get their research suppressed or of people yelling at them and trying to intimidate them off the stage when they spoke about their findings at meetings. 

Be sure to stay tuned today to hear Nina’s story and learn about the science and politics of saturated fats, the dangers of vegetable oils, and the history of how we came to believe that fat is bad for health.


  • Nina explains how she became interested in determining how the paradigm shifted in the 1950s regarding the quality of fats recommended to the nation.
  • Nina talks about the politics of science.
  • The theme that inspired Nina to write her New York Times bestselling book, The Big Fat Surprise.
  • The profound and tragic influence that Ancel Keys had on our nation, the food industry, and people’s health.
  • The tipping point that occurred when the food giants and the processed food industry started getting involved in some of the private organizations, like the American Heart Association, who before that time, used to be far more objective.
  • The conflict of interest that exists with institutions like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
  • The challenges related to the shifting diet paradigm.
  • Why nutrition has become so politicized over time.
  • Nina talks about the struggles she has had as a journalist, and with the group that she founded, in trying to have some influence over the dietary guidelines.
  • The cognitive dissonance around people not being willing to entertain the possibility that they should question dogma.
  • The criticism and hostility leveled at Nina for her alternative viewpoint in the work she does.
  • The importance of the US Dietary Guidelines, and what went wrong with them.
  • How Nina’s research has impacted what she eats.

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Connect with Nina Teicholz

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The Nutrition Guidelines Website