Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Coffee, Chocolate and Red Wine

This is my new favorite kitchen dictionary. In The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth Jonny Bowden explains the importance of fat in our diets, why our bodies need fiber, and why we should be concerned about the glycemic index of the foods we consume. He explains antioxidants in plain terms, cholesterol, too, and considers the benefits of shopping organic while recognizing the limitations of commercialized "real foods."

So, what does Bowden's recommended diet look like? One that emphasizes whole, nutritionally rich foods. People throughout history have thrived on diets of of every food pyramid configuration without suffering from the heart disease, stroke, obesity, and cancers that plague modern America.

"Here's what they haven't done:" writes Bowden, "thrived on food with bar codes. More than anything else the take home message of this book is: Eat real food."

Now, we've heard this message before and so some of the "controversial" foods that make it to the top 150 aren't as shocking as they would have been just a few years ago: Butter, coconut, almonds, whole eggs, lamb, chocolate, coffee (yes, coffee) and red wine. Surprisingly, however, very few grains make it to the top 150 healthiest foods and sufferers of Celiac disease will be pleased to hear that whole wheat doesn't make the cut.

However you feel about grains or organic foods, this book is a source of invaluable nutritional information for everyone. Beautifully organized and indexed and punctuated with pleasing photography, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth is a feast for the eyes. The information is presented in a casual and engaging manner and the content is fascinating. Hot peppers for heartburn? Wasabi cures food poisoning? How do mushrooms boost immunity? How Turnips are like catfish, and dubunking the dubunkers of the grapefruit diet.

Entertaining, useful, and engaging, The 150 Heathiest Foods on Earth will be my go-to guide for better eating in 2008.

A few changes I've already made:

Goodbye, Coffemate. What are you anyway?

Hello steamed organic milk.

Goodbye, Splenda.

Hello Blue Agave nectar*. Where have you been all my life?

*incidentally, Trader Joes has a much better price than Amazon on that item.