Real Food: What To Eat and Why,
by Nina Planck
With the often contradictory and confusing information on food, Real Food: What To Eat and Why steps in to answer the question using both science and common sense. The author, Nina Planck, pushes the envelope by insisting our ancestors had it right, our modern fear of fat is often unfounded and our industrial food system is the real culprit.
While the author does offer some information on the impact of industrial eating, this is not really an environmental manifesto. But as a follow-up to a book like The Omnivore's Dilemma it fills in the gaps of personal health and biology. Planck cites dozens of scientific studies that clearly dispel the myths around cholesterol, saturated fats and our historical diet of free-range meats, raw dairy and tons of fresh fruits and vegetables.
A few interesting studies cited in Real Foods: What To Eat and Why:
- According to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health, "The amount of cholesterol in food is not very strongly linked to cholesterol levels in the blood". Planck explains how cholesterol actually repairs damaged arteries.
- Fish oils have shown to be as effective as anti-pyschotic drugs without the side effects.
- Raw (unpastuerized) milk, cream and butter aids digestion, fights pancreatic cancer, arthritis, arteriosclerosis and cataracts, and treats diabetes, eczema, inflammation, high blood pressure and much more.
- Grass-fed, free-range beef not only supports a healthy ecology, it is also healthier. It reduces triglycerides and atherosclerosis, aids weight loss, and prevents cancer mostly due to the presence of CLA and other omegas.
The citations in this book are vast and incredibly interesting. It also includes references on where to find locally raised and healthy sources of real food.
I really appreciated the vast information in this book. I would say the only thing I found to be scarce was information on artificial or natural sugars; I would have appreciated her take on the role or impact of such sugars in our diet. I also don't think there was a big enough emphasis on listening to our bodies. While eating unprocessed, organically grown, free-range and ethically-raised food is obviously crucial, the ratios of how much to eat or how often vary greatly from person to person.
Ultimately, I think the book is great at dispelling myths around fats and assuaging any omnivore's guilt over enjoying bacon (yes, it can be good for you!) but nothing compares to tuning into our own individual bodies.