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The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  751 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Physician and popular New York Times Upshot contributor Aaron Carroll mines the latest evidence to show that many “bad” ingredients actually aren’t unhealthy, and in some cases are essential to our well-being.

Advice about food can be confusing. There's usually only one thing experts can agree on: some ingredients—often the most enjoyable ones—are bad for you, full stop. B
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Len Evans Jr
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

I felt particulary qualified to review this book, not from the persepective that I knew a lot about the topic but that having a MS and BA in Biology and having worked for almost 8 yrs in research with coauthorship of more than 10 scientific papers in state and national journals, I know about the process. First thing I want to say is the author knows his stuff. So much of what he says about scientific studies and papers is dead on. As far as his find
...more
Diane Barnes
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I can't give a non-fiction book about food and diets more than 3 stars, but Dr. Carroll is a 5 star scientist to my way of thinking. Imagine, he actually uses common sense when it comes to food. He tells us how studies get done, what they mean, how they get published and get attention, and how they get funded. Politics and marketing play a huge part in getting us all to follow along and accept theories that have no basis in fact. Bottom line: Unless you have a serious food allergy or intolerance ...more
Aloke
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Very clearly written overview of the current scientific consensus about a variety of “bad” foods: meat, alcohol, salt, etc. The “bad” is tongue in cheek since he doesn’t condemn any of the foods presented (he comes closest with sugar) and even points out places where eliminating a food can be as bad as overdoing it. It also teaches you how to think about food and food research. Even though the jury may be out on some of these foods, Carroll prepares you to understand the importance (or more like ...more
Andy
Dec 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
The author is a physician and a NY Times expert on evidence-based medicine. Nevertheless the book starts emphatically with the dangerously inaccurate general idea that we can't really know anything useful for public health without randomized clinical trials. What about: tobacco, sewers, crib death, seat belts, etc., etc., etc. ???!!!! Should we stop all the existing life-saving preventive measures that were never tested in a randomized trial? He briefly mentions tobacco and lung cancer as an exc ...more
Jeremy
May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Aaron Carroll is a pediatrician and professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine. His main thesis is that we generally don't know as much about food as we seem to think we do. Many studies are poorly run or just not strong enough (randomized control trials are the best but expensive and hard to do). Some points:

The evidence in favor of a low-fat diet is thin, but the evidence of benefits of certain fats are mounting, except for trans fats. Meat in moderation (actually pretty much every
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Lorri Steinbacher
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Great antidote to all those diet books that overwhelm you with rules and advice based on shaky nutritional studies. Carroll's made his bones analyzing nutritional studies and the advice that he gives makes sense: anything in moderation unless you have a medical condition that precludes it. We all want to believe that there is a magic combination of nutrients that will extend our lives but the reality is we will probably never know what that magic combination is. Also, I took away a very importan ...more
Suzanned99
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought this book would be better. I like his articles in the New York Times and his YouTube videos. However, the book is lacking.

He starts by explaining the different quality levels of research, and I get the idea that the high quality randomized controlled trials are few and far between, especially long-term ones with many participants. But most of the studies he gives as evidence for his position in the various chapters aren't randomized controlled trials. He even mentions this, but then sa
...more
Jill Blevins
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I read this one in less than a day, because who doesn't want to read justification for drinking, eating what you really enjoy, and not feeling guilty - in moderation - all while learning fun facts, great anecdotes and personal stories, and laughing at how stupid humans are about our food choices.

The author does a great job of explaining research, his research methods, and how most research is stupid. This alone is worth reading if only to make you smarter about how to read studies about
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Doris
An excessively provocative title.

The author debunks the faulty research that has led to the demonization of several foods:
Butter
Meat
Eggs
Salt
Gluten
GMOs
Alcohol
Coffee
Diet Soda
MSG
Non-organic foods

He examines the history surrounding the attacks on these foods and points up the weaknesses in the research while highlighting contradictory research.

His reports are necessarily hedged with disclaimers (everything in moderation, folks) and exceptions (i.e., salt really does need to be limited for people w
...more
Jennifer
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
We are all susceptible to believing the quick fix, magical cure to what ails us...and then pesky science gets in the way. Carroll actually reads the studies and does a great job here of explaining those studies and debunking a lot of false beliefs that concern what we should or should not consume. Very recommended, as are the author's podcast and YouTube channel.
Lisa Petty
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who is often terrified by the headlines about food studies needs to read this book. Dr. Carroll explains how studies work and which ones are actually valid.
Ana
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I already love and recommend Aaron Carroll's show on YouTube (Healthcare Triage) and I was glad to see him bring the same passion for evidence based medicine and scientific literacy into this fun yet useful read (despite the click-baity title which I really cringe at).

The first part presents a recap on the basics of different scientific studies with their respective levels of definitiveness, which I think is universally such a valuable read. It managest to remain fun to read while extensively r
...more
Susan
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Aaron Carroll is a physician who writes a column in the New York Times about food, and this book is an analysis of foods that for many years we have been told are bad for us. He summarizes the findings that were originally used to demonize "bad foods" and then examines later studies that contradict the earlier findings.

I've done a lot of reading about food in the last few years and what I really liked about this book is that he summarizes the findings about many different foods and doesn't just
...more
Kate
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Just okay, nothing too insightful or new for me. It's basically saying that things like caffeine, alcohol, diet soda, etc are fine for most people, in moderation. Nothing needs to be completely avoided. As a person who avoids certain ingredients like MSG, artificial sweeteners, etc, I did find some of this relatable. Moderation is the key.
Gendou
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book dispels myths that have scared people off eating certain foods where that fear isn't backed up by the current scientific consensus. For example, cholesterol, saturated fat, gluten, GMOs, coffee, and alcohol. Also some myths that a food is good for you e.g. organic, milk, etc. It's thoroughly researched and I find the author trustworthy as he has a good grasp of the philosophy of science.
Robin
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Dr. Carroll covers all of the stuff (food and non-foods) we've been told are "bad" for us, but like most things in life, it all comes down to "in moderation" for just about everything. This includes butter (yay!), meat (preference is on fish but an occasional steak is fine), eggs, salt, gluten, GMOs, alcohol (again, yay!), coffee (double yay!), diet soda, and non-organic foods. But here is my admission: I skimmed most of the scientific explanations and mainly read the "The Bottom Line" section a ...more
Jane
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, food
I got this book as a gift from my husband. He had heard the author on a podcast and thought I would like it. I might not have picked up this book otherwise because I would have assumed that I already agreed with everything in it. While it was true that I was already on board with almost everything in the book, I still found it interesting to read. It's always nice to have your views validated by science. Plus he wrote about at least 2 foods that I have changed my views on!
Olivia
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is utterly confused about some of the most controversial and widely misunderstood foods and ingredients. The novel emphasizes the importance of sound, scientific evidence and presents the most rigorous research concerning such foods. The author also provided a historical context for many of the foods that we have come to scrutinize, in turn giving us a better sense of the irrationality behind such fears. Awesome read!
High Plains Library District
Accessibly written, this is an evidence-based debunking of the myths about which foods are healthy and which are not.

It starts with a brief introduction to the different kinds of research-based studies and provides the clearest description I’ve ever read of the difference between relative risk and absolute risk in studies. The author’s intent is clear: “I also want to show you that it’s okay to live a little and not be so worried about what you eat, because in many cases your fears are probably
...more
Marjorie Elwood
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, locavores
Accessibly written, this is an evidence-based debunking of the myths about which foods are healthy and which are not.

It starts with a brief introduction to the different kinds of research-based studies and provides the clearest description I’ve ever read of the difference between relative risk and absolute risk in studies. The author’s intent is clear: “I also want to show you that it’s okay to live a little and not be so worried about what you eat, because in many cases your fears are probably
...more
Robert
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bad Food Bible is a thoughtful, science-based analysis of the foods and beverages that all of those conflicting articles and studies either warn you about or recommend. As with many things, the key is moderation. And most of the widely touted diets are about anything but moderation.

Aaron Carroll is a pediatrician and medical researcher who picks apart these studies and points out the questionable statistics and conclusions. I love Aaron’s Healthcare Triage podcast, and his delightful sense o
...more
Bianca
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not going to lie I loved this book. Carroll dealt with some of the ridiculous arguments in regards to fats, GMOs, and non-organic foods, that always tend to get me rilled up. I grew up in a household where I was privileged enough to get food prepared by hand by my lovely mother with only the best ingredients. She was never one to hop on diet trends, thus I learned from a young age that the key to a health diet was a little bit of everything and using fresh ingredients. We ate butter, prosci ...more
Gabby
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan Jones
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Carroll does an excellent job of dispelling many of the common myths around healthy eating. Although he doesn’t necessarily say what we should or should not eat, he explains why that’s the case: there’s very little solid research to back up most of the commonly known healthy eating recommendations.

Missing from this book was a discussion about environmental effects of different diets, but as he acknowledged it was beyond the scope of the book. I thought it would have been worth more than just a
...more
Lynn
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finally a book about nutrition and nutritional myths actually based on reasonable science that is written in layman's terms than anyone can understand.
Mander Pander
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, 2019
Goodreads needs to get with it and let us give half stars in our ratings so I can give this the 3.5 stars it deserves. I'm not sure how many doctors, authors, or doctors who write books need to tell people "there's no secret to healthy eating; just eat in moderation and make most of what you eat fruits and veggies," for it to be accepted as general good and acceptable knowledge, but it hasn't yet.
This book goes so far as to say "Butter? Meat? Processed Food? Alcohol? Sure, have a little bit, in
...more
Michael
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: foodie
i like food. i like research. i like people who like food and research. read this book. your ego and your stomach will thank you.
Wesley
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Rating: 4 Apples

A commonsense book (audio version), on what is and what isn’t bad (and good) for your health.
Written by a pediatrician, he discusses salt, butter, sugar, GMOs, and other diet related topics.
Carrie
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Refreshing common sense
Laura
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
So i liked this but i wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. I can admire the amount of research that went into this book. However there was nothing about the book that pulled you to keep reading. I really had to work to finish it even though i was enjoying it immensely. The author selected a handful of food stuffs that are likely to ignite controversy. Each chapter he lays out that current research isnt so clear as to suggest eliminating that item and moderation is safe. The problem is that even th ...more
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