An Apple A Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat Hardcover – Jan 13 2009
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Eat salmon. It’s full of good omega-3 fats. Don’t eat salmon. It’s full of PCBs and mercury. Eat more veggies. They’re full of good antioxidants. Don’t eat more veggies. The pesticides will give you cancer.
Forget your dinner jacket and put on your lab coat: you have to be a nutritional scientist these days before you sit down to eat—which is why we need Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the expert in connecting chemistry to everyday life. In An Apple a Day, he’s taken his thorough knowledge of food chemistry, applied it to today’s top food fears, trends, and questions, and leavened it with his trademark lighthearted approach. The result is both an entertaining revelation of the miracles of science happening in our bodies every time we bite into a morsel of food, and a telling exploration of the myths, claims, and misconceptions surrounding our obsession with diets, nutrition, and weight.
Looking first at how food affects our health, Dr. Joe examines what’s in tomatoes, soy, and broccoli that can keep us healthy and how the hundreds of compounds in a single food react when they hit our bodies. Then he investigates how we manipulate our food supply, delving into the science of food additives and what benefits we might realize from adding bacteria to certain foods. He clears up the confusion about contaminants, examining everything from pesticide residues, remnants of antibiotics, the dreaded trans fats, and chemicals that may leach from cookware. And he takes a studied look at the science of calories and weighs in on popular diets.
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In some instances, such popular myths can acutally cause harm. The take-up of pollutants in some oily fish, for example, have been shown to occur in minuscule amounts. But detrimental health effects can occur if consumers cut out such foods since the scientifically established health benefits massively outweigh any risk that such pollutants may pose. Another concern is that all our food today is contaminated with 'chemicals'. As the author states, such statements are meaningless without appropriate context. Take the eponymous apple of the book's title. Apples contain nail polish remover (acetone), rubbing alcohol (isopropanol), and cyanide. Should we be worried about eating apples? Of course not. Context is everything. The amounts of these, and over 300 other chemicals found in apples, are too small to be of any consequence. Whatever effect the fruit has on our health is a reflection of all of these naturally occurring substances.Read more ›
Coming from a Canadian author, I was hoping to like this book, but after reading the small section entitled "Milk and Calcium", I lost a lot of respect for this man as a "nutrition authority".
I think the author could have produced a better book if he'd written in greater depth, on fewer subjects, the ones he was most knowledgeable on. Dairy products are not one of those subjects, and his bias in their favour is painfully obvious.
He portrays the anti-dairy segment of our society as being primarily animal rights and vegetarian organizations, and claims that independent researchers fall on the side of the dairy industry for milk's health benefits. Don't Drink Your Milk!: New Frightening Medical Facts About the World's Most Overrated Nutrient ( While this book is dated, the number of medical doctors recommending against consuming the milk from cows has continued to grow.)
He acknowledges that, "Milk stands accused of contributing to heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, allergies, stomach cramps, diarrhea, autism, mucus production, and, get this, bone fractures!Read more ›