Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus


Udo Erasmus's book was first published in 1986, the same year as Fish and Human Health by William E M Lands (see review on this site). The scope of Erasmus's book is much wider and the author strikes a good balance between the presentation of complex biochemistry and readability. He covers a wide range of themes linking fatty acid research with health issues, using a slightly idiosyncratic but nevertheless endearing style.

Subject Matter

As already mentioned, the scope of the book is wide, in some ways similar to that of Chow's Fatty Acids in Foods and their Health Implications (see review on this site), but without the sheer depth.

Early sections cover biochemistry effectively. The process of making, packaging and storing oils is covered in some details, as this became an important theme for Erasmus (who marketed his own product).

Physiology leads on to analysis of food products, followed by more chapters on oils that heave specific health benefits. Degenerative diseases are covered relatively concisely before concluding with a short section on total health.


The author makes passing reference to chia seeds, and alludes to their health potential, but gives much more extensive coverage of flax seeds.

Data Highlights

Data, primarily on the PUFA content of various foods, is presented in a straightforward manner in simple tables throughout the book. These include a comparison of the relative essential fatty acid (defined as ALA and LA) content of wild animals versus their domestic counterparts.


This book is written in an accessible style and should appeal to students, nutrition industry professionals and non-professionals alike.


Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill is an eminently readable book that covers the role of fats in human nutrition comprehensively. The explanations of fatty acid biochemistry and physiology are presented in an easy to understand format, often with the aid of effective diagrams.

Find out about the PUFA content of Udo Erasmus's 3 6 9 Oil
Read reviews on other books about the role of essential fatty acids in nutrition