Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction

It is always in the best interest of those who market foods to make grandiose claims regarding their nutritional value, regardless of whether actual scientific proof exists to support such a claim. Even diligent and educated consumers often have difficulty discerning facts from mere theory or pure marketing hype.

As the incidence of childhood obesity in the United States continues to increase at an alarming rate and food costs skyrocket, this book arrives at a perfect time for health-conscious consumers, providing an authoritative reference for anyone looking to make wise eating decisions at home, work, school, or in restaurants. Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction is the result of a collaborative effort between a medical doctor and an award-winning journalist and author on nutrition. This book provides actual research findings to shed light on the true benefits of the most popular health foods—and in some cases, debunk misconceptions surrounding certain foods.

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3 comments

  1. 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Fun Read, but Poor Study Selection, June 29, 2013
    This review is from: Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction (Hardcover)
    This book was a fun read. It made you understand what are the “active ingredients” in different foods, and what their medicinal effects are.

    What I didn’t like was the authors’ selection of studies. I had a few issues with them, like:

    – Many of the studies done reference rats or mice. Yes, I understand that rats and mice are selected because certain aspects are similar enough to humans. But nonetheless, they’re not humans. So it wouldn’t be accurate to conclude that just because something worked on a rat, it will work on a human. Many times, that’s not the case.

    – Many of the studies reference isolated supplements and not actual food. For example, in the section on apples, the authors reference studies on quercetin. Sure, quercetin is a phytonutrient found in apples, but in food, it’s not just isolated nutrients. Rather, they interact with each other. So just because a particular phytonutrient is effective in isolation doesn’t mean that the food will be as effective. Or it might mean the whole food might be even more effective. We just don’t know unless the studies are performed with food.

    Besides that, I very much liked that the book gave you caveats. Many books tell you what the food is good for, but they never tell you what it’s bad for. This book does that.

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  2. Midwest Book Review
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Thoroughly ‘reader friendly’, October 8, 2010
    By 
    Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) –

    This review is from: Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction (Hardcover)
    The concept that the food we eat has a direct bearing on our health is universal. Agreement as to what kinds of food we should be eating is not. There are a great many controversies on the subject ranging from issues such as organic vs. non-organic, to food manufacturer claims that are unsubstantiated by science or purposely exaggerated, to the proper and adequate labeling of foods sold in our supermarkets. That’s why “Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction” by Myrna and Mark Goldstein should be considered mandatory reading for anyone concerned with health issues and our food supply. A 306-page compendium of information and insight compiled and written by the team of independent scholar Myrna Chandler Goldstein and Mark A. Goldstein, M.D. (division chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston). Each chapter is alphabetically devoted to dozens and dozens of particular foods ranging from Almonds to Eggs to Mushrooms to Sardines to Walnuts. Thoroughly ‘reader friendly’ and enhanced with the inclusion of a glossary and an index, “Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction” is ideal for both school and community Food & Nutritional Health instructional reference collections.

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  3. 2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Excellent reference, but maybe not for every home library, February 26, 2011
    By 
    H. Laack
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Healthy Foods: Fact versus Fiction (Hardcover)
    This is one of those books that should be in every public library; if it isn’t in yours, make the suggestion to your librarians to get it. The authors have provided heavily footnoted information on fifty foods often mentioned in discussions of what makes up a healthy diet.

    This reference is primarily vegetarian, with only eggs and sardines included in the list of foods included, and some of the “trendy” kinds of things like acacia berries are conspicuous by their absence. Each food (listed alphabetically) is described with a summary of research related to the potential for assisting in improving our health. Take “dried plums” as an example. After noting that “in the past, dried plums were often viewed more as a laxative,” this chapter moves on to note that there have been studies showing positive impacts of dried plums on osteoporosis, weight management, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular health, breast cancer, and possibly even in suppressing the growth of major food-borne pathogens in ground meat. These are not the kinds of “miracle cure” statements seen in those ubiquitous internet ads but instead include citations of studies around the world, with the findings carefully stated.

    Almost every section ends with a caveat or two; for dried plums, those who tend to be anemic are advised that these could reduce absorption of iron, so dried plum juice should be consumed only between meals.

    Most chapters end with a “should XXX be part of the diet?” For some things–garlic for example–they enthusiastically endorse the food. For others, there is a more measured response. After citing a large number of benefits of tea, there is mention of potential interaction with cancer drugs that should be discussed with the oncologist of anyone taking these, along with a reminder that green tea contains high fluoride levels, so those drinking fluoridated water may need to limit this otherwise beneficial beverage.

    There is much to be learned from this book. If you write about or work with foods and menu planning on a daily basis, it could be an excellent addition to your personal library. However, I have given it only four stars for the general reader, because it is probably more detailed than most would find necessary to purchase for themselves. But, just as I started this review, I will say it again–I heartily recommend Healthy Foods: Fact Versus Fiction as a critical part of every public library’s reference section.

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