Hopefully, years from now, Eating Well for Optimum Health will be looked upon as the book that saved the health of millions of Americans and transformed the way we eat--not as the book we overlooked at our own peril. It clarifies the mishmash of conflicting news, research, hype, and hearsay regarding diet, nutrition, and supplementation, and further establishes the judicious Dr. Weil, the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, as a savior of public well-being. If you've ever wondered what "partially hydrogenated soybean oil" really is, been perplexed by contrary news reports about recommended dosages for supplements, or questioned the safety of using aluminum pots for cooking, Dr. Weil will make it all clear.
Weil (pronounced "while") bravely criticizes many of the major diet books on the market, and backs up his admonitions with science. He warns readers to not fall under "the spell" of the anticarbohydrate Atkins Diet, but also criticizes the eating plan advocated by Dr. Dean Ornish--which has been granted Medicare coverage for cardiac patients--as being too low fat for the majority of people. (The omega-3 fatty acids missing from Ornish's diet are essential for hormone production and the control of inflammation, he says.) It's also fascinating to learn that autism, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease may be caused by omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, while an excess of omega-6 fatty acids--very common in the typical American diet--can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Weil's explanation of the chemistry of fats will prove difficult for most readers, but few will want to eat fast-food French fries ever again after reading his appalling reasons for avoiding them, which go way beyond their well-documented heart-clogging capabilities.
After a thorough rundown of nutritional basics and a primer of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, Weil unveils what he feels is "the best diet in the world," with 85 recipes, such as Salmon Cakes and Oven-Fried Potatoes, that are healthy, tasty, quick to prepare, and complete with nutritional breakdowns. He includes a stirring chapter on safe weight loss (he sympathizes with the overweight and comically recalls his one-week trial of a safflower oil-diet while an undergraduate). Other, equally enlightening sections include tips for eating out and shopping for food (with warnings on various additives and a guide to organics), and a wondrous appendix with dietary recommendations for dozens of health concerns, including allergies, asthma, cancer prevention, mood disorders, and pregnancy. Eating Well is an indispensable consumer reference and one not afraid to lambaste the diet industry and empower the public with information about which the majority of doctors--to the detriment of the public health--are ignorant. --Erica Jorgensen [via]