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Know Your Fats by Mary G. Enig, PhD

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Dr. Mary G. Enig, a nutritionist/biochemist of international renown for her research on the nutritional aspects of fats and oils, is a consultant, clinician, and the Director of the Nutritional Sciences Division of Enig Associates, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland. Dr. Enig, a consultant on nutrition to individuals, industry, and state and federal governments, is a licensed practitioner in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She has served as a Contributing Editor of the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition and a Consulting Editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Enig has authored numerous journal publications, mainly on fats and oils research and nutrient/drug interactions, and is a well-known invited lecturer at scientific meetings and a popular interviewee on TV and radio shows about nutrition. She was an early and articulate critic of the use of trans fatty acids and advocated their inclusion in nutritional labeling; the scientific mainstream is now challenging the food product industry's use of trans-containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. She received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is a Fellow of The American College of Nutrition, a member of The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, and President of the Maryland Nutritionists Association.

Enig was a researcher of trans fatty acids for decades, with one newspaper calling her work in the area "pioneering". She was warning of the effects of trans fatty acids years before their dangers were widely accepted. Enig believes that trans-fats lower the beneficial type of cholesterol (HDL) and pushed for improved labeling of trans fats on products, which has now become mandatory on products in the U.S. and in Europe.

Enig disputes the widely accepted view in the medical community that consumption of saturated fats contributes to heart disease. Her chapter in the book Coronary Heart Disease: The Dietary Sense and Nonsense – An evaluation by scientists, was reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine, which noted that while she provided an appropriate discussion of trans fats in diet, she did not accurately depict the medical literature on the connection between diet and coronary disease, and that she wrote with an inflammatory tone that was unjustified. Enig responded to the review in a letter published in the journal.

Enig believes both butter and coconut oil are not eaten enough and are good for heart health. Enig has conducted and published original research into the properties of coconut oil, and she is a vocal advocate for its consumption, going against the widely held view in the medical community that due to coconut oil's high saturated fat content, its use should be minimized or avoided. Citing the work of Jon J. Kabara, Enig says that lauric acid has antimicrobial properties, and that unprocessed coconut oil could be effective in the treatment of viral infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Some of Enig's work has been inspired by the research of Weston A. Price, a dentist who traveled the world researching traditional diets in the 1920s and '30s. Sally Fallon, an advocate for the nutritional theories of Price, recruited Enig to utilize her nutritional training to co-write a book to popularize Price's work in 1989 called Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. It explained Price's findings and provided recipes of traditional foods such as chicken liver pâté, sauerkraut, sourdough breads and bone broths, as well as raw milk, kombucha, probiotics (yogurt, kim-chee), trans-fat avoidance, organ meats, coconut oil, and butter and has sold more than 400,000 copies as of 2011.

Enig co-wrote another book with Sally Fallon called Eat Fat, Lose Fat which promotes what Enig considers "good" fats, including coconut, butter, cream, nuts, meat, lard, goose fat, and eggs. In the book, Enig criticizes the use of polyunsaturated oils which most diets recommend, because of the way they are processed and also argues that many who follow low-fat diets feel low on energy because they are "fat deficient".