I was searching for a nutrition book on Amazon the other day, and I came to my attention that there are A LOT of books out there on how to get healthy and eat better. I guess I’m guilty of getting my information from research and professional journals, so I’m a bit out of touch. As I browsed through the (FIFTY-NINE !) pages of books on nutrition, I realized why so many people are so confused about what to eat, and how to care for themselves. So thank you Amazon.com, for inspiring this blog post – a compilation of my favorite books on health and nutrition.
When I look at books on health and nutrition, there are three things I look for (and I encourage you to do the same)
- Who is the author? It should be an MD for anything health related and ideally, an RD for anything nutrition related, but I’m OK with a nutrition book written by an MD or MS/MPH (Master of Science or Public Health) with a strong research background in nutrition. All are experts in their field, and are specially trained to understand the latest research and make recommendations.
- Are there references at the end of the book or each chapter? References to research studies tell me that the book is based on information that has been studied and researched, and not on some wacky idea or product that someone is trying to sell. Also look for reviews by members of major medical groups such as American Journal of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or top research and teaching hospitals like Mass General, Mayo or Cleveland Clinic. I also look to see if the author is affiliated with any research hospital or University, which adds additional credibility.
- Does it sound too good to be true? If yes, put it down, step away and remind yourself that there are no magic bullets. Look for books that are based on research and practical advice, with tips that you can understand and follow.
So, in no particular order, these are some of my favorite how to books when it comes to health and nutrition:
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is based on extensive research by the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, has been shown to reduce blood pressure significantly AND help with weight loss. The DASH Diet for Weight Loss is one of the proven leading diets out there, and one I always recommend for healthy eating and weight loss.
Written by a Registered Dietitian, The DASH Diet Action Plan provides tools and tips to help incorporate the DASH diet into your own life – it’s easier than you think!
Call it Insulin Resistance, Pre-diabetes, Impaired, or Metabolic Syndrome. If you have slightly elevated glucose levels, excess weight around the mid-section, high blood pressure, and probably a lower than desirable HDL (good cholesterol), you are probably insulin resistant. The Insulin Resistance Diet offers a good explanation of what’s going on inside your body and how to correct it with diet and exercise.
Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book is the bible for any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. So much helpful information.
Our Bodies, Ourselves has long been an excellent, all inclusive resource for women of all ages who want to learn more about their bodies and how to stay healthy.
Miriam Nelson is a leader in research on the benefits of strength training for women. Her Strong Women series has been on the best seller list for years. Her research on the impact of both nutrition and exercise on the prevention of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and arthritis has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. and elsewhere.
Written by Registered Dietitian, Liz Ward who is an expert in the area of feeding kids and families. MyPlate for Moms translates the government’s latest recommendations into practical, easy-to-understand advice and recipes that work for families who live in the real world.
Google “Men’s Health” and you’ll get lots of listings for books that promise to help you to regrow hair, lose flab, and get hard abs (and other parts of the male anatomy), but forget about answering any real health questions. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Men’s Health is the ultimate in men’s health information, assembled into a single volume containing a quarter-century’s worth of knowledge about men’s health learned from Harvard studies of more than 96,000 men. This all-in-one men’s health book features the most current information on the behaviors, foods, and preventative activities that men need to lead longer, healthier lives.
Nancy Clark, MS RD, is a top sports nutritionist who has worked with famous, moderately famous, and not so famous athletes to help them improve their performance through diet. Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a must have for anyone who eats and works out (i.e.hopefully everyone).
Michael Pollan is a best selling author and journalist and one of my favorite inspirational writers on the common sense basics of a healthy diet. In Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, he provides a simple framework for a healthy and sustainable diet. Pollan’s advice is centered on his famous principal, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It includes his rules (i.e., “let others sample your food” and “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead”). LOVE him, and all of his books. Make sure you check out his documentary Food Inc., as well.
In my opinion, Marion Nestle is the female equivalent of Michael Pollan (see above). A world-renowned author, journalist, and professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, she has written numerous books about how our food system and food choices are affected by science, the economy, and food marketing. What to Eat is an aisle by aisle guide to help navigate and survive the confusing array of products at the grocery store.
Also not to be missed – my favorite newsletters
Wonderful consumer friendly newsletter with timely nutrition and health topics based on research and expertise from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Equally wonderful consumer friendly newsletter produced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Most helpful are their monthly special reports which rate brand name food products for their healthfulness.
Have you read any great books about food or health lately?