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20 Must-Read Books About Health and Food

See what some of the top writers in the health food industry have to say about achieving optimum health.

There are countless documentaries, cooking shows, and even talk shows that stream on a daily basis, instructing you on which foods you need to stay away from and which foods you should eat an endless amount of. But if you're still confused about what to eat and what not eat, you should consider picking up a copy of some health books. The authors who wrote these books below agree that on-and-off dieting is not the answer to longevity. Find out what each scholar has to say in their respective novels, and then grab a bag of popcorn and watch some of our go-to foodie movies for some light-hearted films about the joys of food!

In Defense of Food

in defense of food

"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

This is author Michael Pollan's solution to the distressed diet that the United States has succumbed to. Pollan argues that Americans have replaced their value of food with nutrients, and as a result, common sense has been replaced with confusion. In other words, our food has gone from being a product of nature to a lab experiment. To eat fat or to not eat fat, to eat carbs or to not eat carbs; you get the picture. It's utter chaos! In his book, Pollan discusses how our food became the food science-crazed system it is today and exemplifies how one can eat healthily and restore pleasure back into eating.

You can purchase the book for $15.99 at Shop PBS.

Zero Sugar Diet

zero sugar diet

David Zinczenko, creator of Eat This, Not That! and New York Times bestselling author, wrote the Zero Sugar Diet to confront the two main issues that are making weight loss so difficult and pitting our own bodies against us: Our food has too much sugar and our food has too little fiber. In his latest book, he digs into the sugar we don't even know we're eating like in foods ranging from yogurt to fitness smoothies.

Order your own copy on Amazon for $16.65 today!

It Starts With Food

It starts with food

This book gives you the 4-1-1 on how to lose 10 pounds and ultimately become a healthier you. It Starts With Food is better described as an action plan rather than a novel. Between the pages, you will find the Whole30 program, which is a sustainable "30-day nutritional reset" that will enable you to break those pesky unhealthy habits and rid yourself of health complications. The best part? It works. Tens of thousands of people have reported that they've lost weight and gained a healthier relationship with food with this powerful 30-day plan. Some have even admitted that it eliminated their symptoms, diseases and other conditions ranging from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and acne to hypothyroidism, diabetes, Crohn's, IBS, and bipolar disorder.

You can snag this book online for $14.57 from Amazon.

Run Fast, Eat Slow

run fast eat slow

If you're looking to boost your metabolism then this cookbook is something you'll want to get your hands on. Run Fast, Eat Slow is a collection of wholesome recipes that whole-foods chef Elyse Kopecky and Olympic marathoner Shalane Flanagan co-wrote for runners specifically; however, those who strive to live healthy lifestyles will also greatly benefit from these recipes too. With over 100 recipes, Elyse and Shalane show that healthy fats are essential for flavor and should not be feared, or entirely avoided. They also demonstrate that counting calories, obsessing over protein intake, and participating in a restrictive diet do more damage to the body (and mind) than good.

You can get your own copy for $16.47 at BAM!

Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly Book Cover

William Davis, M.D. has got a serious problem with wheat. After witnessing over 2,000 of his patients give up wheat and regain health as a result, he's convinced that wheat is the single largest contributor to the growing obesity epidemic in the United States. In his groundbreaking book, he explores the harmful effects of what wheat as a product of genetic tinkering does to the body. He then provides a plan that helps one achieve a diet free of wheat! Has this piqued your interest?

You can purchase this book for $9.79 on Amazon.

Good Calories, Bad Calories

good calories bad calories book

Similar to Wheat Belly, Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories basically says that the best weight loss tips out there are the ones that do not promote the idea of a low-fat diet. American science writer and author Gary Taubes argues that obesity is not caused by the number of calories you eat, but rather by the quality. Refined carbs like white bread and pasta raise insulin levels in the body, which promotes the storage of fat. Interesting!

You can find a copy for $12.57 at Barnes & Noble.

The Big Fat Surprise

The big fat suprise book

If you're a connoisseur of burgers and creamy artisan cheese, then this book is your go-to. Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz takes on the same idea as Michael Pollan in In Defense of Food, in the sense that she deems the work of "overzealous researchers" in nutrition science over the past 60 years as inaccurate. In her nine-year-long investigation, she found that more dietary fat—including saturated fat—is the key to better health, wellness, and fitness.

You can pick up a copy for $11.31 on Amazon.

Make Your Own Rules Diet

make your own rules diet book

Tara Stiles is encouraging you to ditch the fad diets and instead focus your energy into yoga and plant-based foods. Make Your Own Rules Diet includes illustrated yoga routines that are designed to make you energized, curb cravings, and ultimately enhance your inner peace. She also includes 50 easy, recipes that can be made in just a few minutes and are chock-full of high fiber foods and leafy greens.

You can purchase this book for $11.79 on Barnes & Noble.

What To Eat

what to eat book

What to Eat will be your new food dictionary. That's right, author Marion Nestle debunks all of the misleading health claims made by big food companies, by taking you through each section in the supermarket, (dairy, fish, meat, produce) and cutting the food jargon to decipher the meticulous food labels. You'll have a greater sense of what foods to buy and stay away from after picking up the purchase.

You can buy a copy for $12.42 on Amazon.

Death By Food Pyramid

death by food pyramid

If you have a special interest in food politics, this book is something you'll want to add to your bookshelf. Why? Denise Minger exposes the culprits who vetoed common sense and science and replaced it with the government-inspired food pyramid. She argues that shoddy science, sketchy politics, and shady special interest have shaped American Dietary Recommendations, and ultimately, destroyed American's health. Wow, get ready to get mad and join the revolution! You might want to uncork a bottle of red wine because after this book, because you'll need a glass (or two) to calm the inner storm.

You can get a copy for $17.13 on Amazon.

Food Matters

food_matters book

Food Matters by Mark Bittman may just be the ultimate encyclopedia for healthy recipes. This book contains an astonishing 500 recipes and he does not believe in leaving any food group out. Recipes vary from pasta with asparagus, bacon, and egg to chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies. Bittman also provides advice on how to buy sustainable meat, dairy products, and vegetables, all of which are not always organic. The objective of this health book is to teach mindful eating through a collection of delicious, nutrient-dense recipes.

You can purchase this book for $23.79 on Amazon.

If Our Bodies Could Talk

if our bodies could talk

A few years ago, The Atlantic's James Hamblin, MD, launched a series of videos called "If Our Bodies Could Talk." Fast forward to December 2016, when the doctor/journalist released a health book by the same name that translates the snooze-worthy human anatomy and physiology into an entertaining and insightful read. He answers questions that in-tune-with-their-health patrons find themselves pondering regularly, such as "Does caffeine make me live longer?" and "Can I boost my immune system?"

You can find this new book for $16.04 on Amazon.


the foodist

Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D. slashes the idea of a short-term diet and constructs a practical guide that readers can utilize to achieve life-long weight control via love of food and the fundamentals of science. She discusses both the nutrition and psychological side of what it means to be healthy and teaches you vital lessons such as how to recalibrate your body and deflect criticism from people who are not supportive of your choice to eating healthy.

You can purchase this book for $21.01 at Barnes & Noble.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

the omnivores dilemma

Michael Pollan has one quest he wishes to conquer in this book and that is simply this: What should we eat for dinner? To answer this, he follows people who make industrialized food, organic or alternative food, and even food that we forage ourselves. He takes the reader through cornfields in Iowa, followed by food-science laboratories, then to fast food restaurants and feedlots, and then to organic farms and hunting grounds. Whatever you eat, Pollan has more than likely seen how it's cultivated and processed.

You can buy this book for $13.14 at Barnes & Noble.

Eat Complete

Eat Complete

Did you know that the brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ? Drew Ramsey, M.D. goes so far to say that the brain determines whether you gain or lose weight. Intrigued? So are we. Check out his recipes, which include the 21 nutrients essential for brain health.

You can purchase this book for $16.86 on Amazon.

Always Hungry?

always hungry

The title says it all. This new book was written by renowned endocrinologist and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. David Ludwig, whose slug line is "Forget calories. Forget cravings. Forget dieting." His book focuses on a three-phase program that ignores calories and, instead, targets fat cells head on. The meal plan he provides is laden in luscious, high-fat foods including nut butters, savory proteins, and natural nutrient-filled carbohydrates.

You can snag a copy of your own for $17.07 from Amazon.

Everyday Super Food

everyday super food

Jamie Oliver presents what he claims to be the most personal book he has ever written with a repertoire of decadent recipes. His optimistic and colorful perspective on cooking and sharing food is exemplified throughout the pages of this book. Expect to be uplifted by his writing and prepare to enjoy food for what it is.

You can purchase this book for $21.07 on Amazon.

Real Food: What to Eat and Why

what to eat and why book

Food activist and avid farmers market attendee Nina Planck wrote this novel in hopes of changing the way we view "real food." She pushes for a return to old-fashioned foods like beef and butter to take the stage, and eliminate industrial foods that are caked in corn syrup and soybean oils. Planck believes the way foods are processed nowadays is what's causing the rate of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rise to astronomical numbers in the United States.

You can pick up a copy for $12.51 on Amazon.


bowl book 2016

Here, plant-based burger chef Lukas Volger brings us Bowl: Vegetarian Recipes for Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap, Dumplings, and Other One-Dish Meals. Wow, that's a certainly a mouthful, but for good reason! Check out his book for a plethora of veggie-stacked recipes.

You can buy your own copy for $18.76 on Amazon.

French Women Don't Get Fat

french women dont get fat

Ladies, this book is for you! If you've ever been to France, then you've surely noticed that the French consume their fair share of decadent desserts and pastries such as flaky croissants and pain au chocolat. So, how do women (and men, arguably) in France stay so petite? The answers to this "French paradox" lie within the pages of this book. The author of this national bestseller, Mireille Guiliano, provides a healthy balance of nutritional tips, insight on the art of French gastronomy, and recipes that you can make in the comforts of home. She encourages people to skip dieting, eat chocolate—which she reveals the average French woman eats 12 pounds of in a single year—drink wine, take long walks, enjoy life, and stay slim. Sounds appetizing, no?

You can find a copy for $11.61 at Barnes & Noble.


Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne