Mary G. Enig

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For ENIG gold plating, see Electroless nickel immersion gold.
Mary G. Enig
Dr Enig.jpg
Born 1931
Died September 8, 2014 [1]
Residence Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Fields Nutrition
Institutions Weston A. Price Foundation
Alma mater University of Maryland, College Park
Notable awards Master of the American College of Nutrition

Mary Gertrude Enig, PhD was a nutritionist and early trans fat researcher known for her unconventional positions on the role fats play in diet and health.[2] She has promoted skepticism towards the widely held view in the medical community[3] that high saturated fat diets lead to heart disease, while she advocates for a diet based on whole foods and rich in certain saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil and butter.[4]

Academic and professional history[edit]

Enig attended the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), receiving an MS, and later a PhD in Nutritional Sciences in 1984.[5] She was a faculty research associate at UMCP with the Lipids Research Group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1984 through 1991. While in graduate school and later as a research associate, Enig participated in biochemical research on lipids. She has published scientific papers on food fats and oils and is a former editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.[6][7]

Enig is a Master of the American College of Nutrition.[8][9] She was a Licensed Nutritionist in Maryland from May 1988 to October 2008.[10]

Enig is the co-founder, vice president, and board-member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), started in 1999 to promote nutrition and health advice based on the work of early 20th century dentist and researcher Weston A. Price.[11]

Dietary views[edit]

Enig was an early researcher of trans fatty acids,[7] warning of their dangers before they were widely accepted.[12][13] Enig believes that trans fats lower the beneficial type of cholesterol-carrying particles (HDL)[13] and pushed for improved labeling of trans fats on products,[14] which has now become mandatory on products in the U.S. and in Europe.

Enig disputes the widely accepted view in the scientific community that consumption of saturated fats contributes to heart disease.[4][15] 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.[16] Enig responded to the review in a letter published in the journal.[17]

Enig believes both butter and coconut oil are not eaten enough and are good for heart health. She has conducted and published research on the properties of coconut oil, and she is a vocal advocate for its consumption,[13][18] going against the standard 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,[19][20] and that unprocessed coconut oil could be effective in the treatment of viral infections, including HIV/AIDS.[21][22]

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,[23] 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.[24]

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".[25]


  1. ^ Obituary Published in The Washington Post on Sept. 9, 2014 9, 2014
  2. ^ Maloof, Rich. "Coconut Oil". MSN Health. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ Camm, John; Luscher, Thomas; Serruys, Patrick (2009). The European Society of Cardiology Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. Blackwell Publishing. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-19-957285-4. 
  4. ^ a b Black, Jane (August 6, 2008). "The Great Divide". Washington Post. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ Passwater, Richard A. (November 1993 – January 1994). Health Risks from Processed Foods and Trans Fats. Interview with Dr. Mary Enig. Whole Foods Magazine.
  6. ^ Bowden, Jonny (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why. Gloucester,MA: Fair Winds Press. pp. 108, 167, 177, 301, 311. ISBN 1-59233-228-5. 
  7. ^ a b Burros, Marian (October 7, 1992). "Now What? U.S. Study Says Margarine May Be Harmful". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ Eauclaire, Sally. (July 1996). "Soy backlash". Vegetarian Times. 
  9. ^ Awards Information. Retrieved June 17, 2011 from the American College of Nutrition website.
  10. ^ "Verification Page". Maryland Board of Dietetic Practice. Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Board of Directors". Weston A. Price Foundation. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ Pollan, Michael. (2008). In Defense of Food – An Eater's Manifesto. Penguin. p. 45. ISBN 1-59420-145-5.
  13. ^ a b c Webb, Densie (September 5, 1990). "Processed oils rival butter in raising cholesterol". Wilmington Morning Star. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ Joe Milicia (Jan 19, 2005). "Companies pull trans fats before label rules". The Bryan Times. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ravnskov U, Allen C, Atrens D et al. (February 2002). "Studies of dietary fat and heart disease". Science 295 (5559): 1464–6. doi:10.1126/science.295.5559.1464c. PMID 11859893. 
  16. ^ Stone, Neil J. (1994). "Book Review – Coronary Heart Disease: The Dietary Sense and Nonsense – An Evaluation by Scientists". New England Journal of Medicine (Massachusetts Medical Society) 330 (9): 943–944. doi:10.1056/NEJM199403313301321. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  17. ^ Enig, MG (1994). "More on Coronary heart disease: The dietary sense and nonsense". The New England journal of medicine 331 (9): 615; author reply 615–6. doi:10.1056/nejm199409013310914. PMID 8047097. .
  18. ^ Trimming the Fats. (December 10, 2003). The Washington Post.
  19. ^ Enig, Mary (May 2000). Know Your Fats. Bethesda Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-9678126-0-7. 
  20. ^ Enig, Mary (September 1995). "Health and nutritional benefits from coconut oil and its advantages over competing oils". Indian Coconut Journal. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Garin: Claims on health benefits of VCO need proof". The Philippine Star. September 12, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Research on coconuts for Aids urged". The Nation. December 29, 1997. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  23. ^ Food Industry. "The Great Divide: Who Says Good Nutrition Means Animal Fats? Weston A. Price. – Business Exchange". Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Sally Fallon is not afraid of fat – Chicago Tribune". March 17, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  25. ^ "A LA CARTER, Chewing the fat to lose weight". Retrieved June 10, 2011.