There are tons of food books out there, so it’s hard to know where to start if you’re looking to brush up on the latest nutrition info or to simply find some useful advice to improve your diet. These five books don’t offer recipes and meal plans, but they’re among our favorites because they get us thinking about where our food comes from, how it impacts our health and why we make the food choices we do each day.
1. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell
In his earlier book, The China Study, Campbell used his research to open readers’ eyes to the compelling and proven health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. (Note: If you haven’t read The China Study or seen the documentary Forks Over Knives, they’re a great place to start!) Now in Whole, Campbell explains the science behind the healthiest ways to eat, and why, even though we know what’s healthy, our eating habits haven’t changed. Hint: It’s not just about personal choice. Whole dives deep into the science of nutrition to help readers understand how plants impact everything from cancer development to metabolism, as well as why an obsession with single nutrients has left us sicker and more confused than ever before.
2. How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D.
In How Not to Die Greger, a world-renowned nutrition expert, physician and founder of NutritionFacts.org, delves into the top fifteen causes of premature death in America — from heart disease and cancer to diabetes and Parkinson’s — and explains how simple nutrition and lifestyle changes can oftentimes trump modern medicine. Whether you take prescription medication to manage a chronic health condition or have a family history of one, everyone in America is at risk for chronic disease and premature death. Based on strong scientific evidence, How Not to Die provides practical, actionable advice on which foods to eat and which lifestyle changes to make to live a longer, healthier life, including a checklist of the twelve foods you should be eating every day.
3. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
In this New York Times bestseller, Pollan digs into the key downfalls of the Western diet, namely that real food has been replaced by nutrients, common sense is muddled by confusion, and that most of what America is consuming today isn’t food at all — it’s food products. The result is what Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. With more common sense than nutrition science, In Defense of Food offers readers a fresh yet old-fashioned approach to healthy eating. Pollan boils down the burning question of what we should eat into seven simple words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Check out a copy if you’re looking to bring simplicity and enjoyment back to healthy eating.
4. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.
With nearly 200 food decisions to make each day, food psychologist Wansink makes the case that it’s not what we eat as much as how we eat that dictates weight and overall wellbeing. In his book, Mindless Eating, Wansink emphasizes the detrimental effects of mindless eating, and offers practical tips to help readers stop mindless eating and bring awareness to why, what and how much they’re putting on their (usually oversized) plates.
5. Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert Lustig
By now you’ve probably heard the phrase, “sugar is the new fat.” If you’re at all interested in how and why this drastic change in thinking happened, Fat Chance explains it best. Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist and obesity expert, lays out the science and politics tying sugar to the global obesity pandemic, and explains the effects some processed foods can have on the hormones that control hunger, satiety and weight. Fat Chance not only explains the science behind sugar but offers both personal and public policy solutions for reversing the obesity pandemic. It’s a valuable read for just about everyone.