There are many great books on nutrition out there.
This article will list some of the best nutrition books for understanding how food affects our health.
Some of these books are related to nutrition politics, others cover nutrition science, and some provide insight on traditional diets.
I’m also sure that many excellent books are missing from this list. However, these are the books that I’ve personally read.
Best Nutrition Books
For each book, you can see the title, author, overview and a link to where you can buy the book.
Let’s get started and take a look at some of the top nutrition books.
#1 Cholesterol is Not the Culprit (by Dr. Fred Kummerow)
What is it about?
If you don’t know him, then you really should look him up.
Dr. Fred Kummerow is a 101-year-old emeritus professor at the University of Illinois.
The world owes him gratitude for his pioneering research into cholesterol and trans fats. For decades, Kummerow was almost a lone voice in his insistence that dietary cholesterol is not a problem.
He identified trans fat as a primary cause of rising rates of heart disease way back in the 1950s.
After campaigning for a ban on trans fat, he finally took the FDA to court for inaction in 2013. The result from that case was historic.
The judge ordered the FDA to ban trans fat unless they could provide new evidence for its safety. Of course, trans fats are far from safe, and a ban duly followed.
‘Cholesterol is Not the Culprit’ is the story about how cholesterol is, in fact, necessary for a healthy life.
But that’s not all; in his book, Kummerow breaks down all his nutrition research into an understandable format.
Some of Kummerow’s beliefs:
- Dietary cholesterol is essential to health.
- Supplements are not necessary if our diet is right.
- Saturated fat is essential and not harmful.
After researching nutrition science for almost eight decades, aged 101, then it’s hard not to be curious.
For me, this is one of the best nutrition books out there.
Buy this book if: you have an interest in heart disease or cholesterol. In addition to that, seven decades of research is surely worth a read.
#2 Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (by Catherine Shanahan MD and Luke Shanahan)
After first being published in 2008, I only got around to reading this book earlier this year.
It was worth the wait. The depth of research in this book is so impressive, and the content is absorbing.
Highly opinionated (but evidence-backed), the book starts strongly from the opening line: “This book describes the diet to end all diets.”
In the book, the authors examine how traditional cultures from around the world used to eat.
‘Deep Nutrition’ answers many questions about traditional foods, and the topics covered are intriguing.
The backbone of the book relates to the belief that optimal health necessitates our ancestor’s traditional foods.
What were the common traits the diets of the Masai and the Japanese shared?
Why are the French among the longest-living people in the world, despite high consumption of animal fats?
In short, this is one of the top nutrition books around. Rather than telling you what is healthy, the book explains the science behind everything it recommends.
The book would also make a great gift for someone needing a nudge in the right direction!
Buy this book if: you have an interest in learning about the shared health-properties of the world’s traditional diets.
#3 The Big Fat Surprise (by Nina Teicholz)
Why do butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet? The answer to this question and a whole lot more are within the book.
Winning numerous ‘best book’ awards in 2014 polls, you probably already know enough about this one.
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to implementing a healthy diet, this may not be the right book.
However, if you are interested in nutrition science and politics, then this is one of the best book out there.
Tackling the non-science behind high carb and low-fat recommendations, ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ shows why meat and dairy belong in our diet. Disassembling nutrition misinformation, the book tells how meat is one of the most nutritionally dense foods we have.
Poor research studies, premature dietary recommendations, and loose science are all prominent features in the book.
Clearly, a lot of effort went into producing this book, and it deserves acclaim for highlighting how politics and industry impact nutritional guidelines.
If you have an interest in nutrition politics, you’ll be sure to love it.
Buy this book if: you want one of the best nutrition books in your collection. It’s great to learn more about shady nutrition politics.
#4 The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living (by Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek)
For anyone interested in a low carb diet, this book by Phinney and Volek is essential reading.
The authors, both doctors, share their stories of using low carb diets in a clinical setting. Vastly experienced, Phinney and Volek have dozens of published studies showing positive outcomes from low-carb diets.
To be honest, if you prefer a simple read, then I would look at one of the other books. However, if you are looking for an in-depth analysis of low carb science, then this is one of the best nutrition books out there.
Despite the science-heavy nature of the book, it is very well-written, enjoyable and readable.
The book clearly lays the blame for growing obesity and disease at the door of excessive carbohydrate intake. Further, it explains why and then presents the unarguable evidence.
One of the fascinating parts of the book is the historical perspective of LCHF diets. How did they evolve and how were they used in the past? Based on our current dietary guidelines, the answers may surprise you.
For a look at the extensive science behind low-carb diets, this is one of the best nutrition books to buy.
Buy this book if: you’ve got to grips with the basics of a low-carb diet. The next stage is to upgrade your knowledge of the science behind low-carbohydrate living – this book gives the answers.
#5 Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (by Weston A. Price)
Now in its’ 8th edition, Weston Price’s classic take on traditional food is one of the top nutrition books.
Highly influential, 1939 marked the year of the first edition. But it’s still a great—and very important—read.
If you don’t know the story, then Dr. Price was a dentist who decided to travel the world. The reason is what makes this world travel especially interesting; to compare traditional diets to the standard western diet.
On his travels, Weston Price frequently noted how healthy and physically developed cultures eating traditional food were.
The dentist specifically sought out the very healthiest cultures on earth – and then studied what made them so healthy. ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ is the story of his findings from this nutritional tour. And that’s what makes this book so relevant today.
In a world of pop tarts and low-fat frankenfood, we are moving further and further away from our traditional foods.
Unfortunately, as we step away from the foods that sustained us for thousands of years, our health problems are skyrocketing.
As part of his pioneering work, Dr. Price also discovered an unknown vitamin that he believed to be essential for our health. The vitamin in question turned out to be Vitamin K2: an essential nutrient that we are still learning to understand.
Although it may be one of the oldest, this is still one of the best nutrition books available today for a historical insight.
Buy this book: if you want to read one of the classic works on nutrition. In short, it was released in 1939 – and there’s a good reason why it’s still popular now!
#6 Diabetes Epidemic and You (by Joseph R. Kraft)
Dr. Kraft explains how we test for diabetes, and why it isn’t useful for catching the condition early enough. He argues that with proper testing, we can detect diabetes and arrest the development of vascular damage throughout the body.
It’s an excellent book that certainly offers a unique perspective. What hits home with this book is the “silent millions with undiagnosed diabetes” talk. This issue shows how important it is to eat a diet full of real foods rather than refined carbohydrate.
Again, this is probably not the best choice for the casual reader, but it offers amazing insight into dealing with chronic disease.
Sadly this book is also very relevant today, with diabetes rates exploding around the world. After finishing the book, you’ll likely wonder if these diabetes rates are real or just the tip of the iceberg.
This book is incredibly powerful in its message.
Those with cardiovascular disease not identified with diabetes….are simply undiagnosed”. Joseph R. Kraft MD
The above quote from Dr. Kraft gives an idea to the book’s narrative; that diabetes is a lot more prevalent than we believe.
All in all, it’s a great nutrition book for anyone interested in preventive nutrition.
Buy this book if: you want an eye-opening tour of diabetes diagnosis, inadequate medical testing, and the possible hidden epidemic.
#7 Good Calories, Bad Calories (by Gary Taubes)
Another thoroughly researched book that delves into the world of nutrition science. Good Calories, Bad Calories is the story of how we should count nutrients rather than calories.
This piece of work has to be one of the best nutrition books I’ve read. Everything is laid out and clearly explained. There’s a mixture of science, anecdotes, politics, and more.
Gary Taubes is on record as saying the book took him five years to write, and it shows.
Intelligently written, the author explains what can be complex nutrition terms with pristine clarity.
Good Calories, Bad Calories puts forward the case that high-carbohydrate diets are causing chronic disease, rather than preventing it.
Some of the areas the book covers:
- A deconstruction of the merits of high-carbohydrate diets
- A detailed analysis of why carbohydrate restriction works
- An exhaustive summary of all the nutrition misinformation throughout the past century.
- Facts, citations, and science; Taubes doesn’t just state his opinion, he backs everything up.
- A breakdown of why it is the quality of calories that matter rather than the quantity.
Good Calories, Bad Calories is one of the top nutrition books if you have an interest in nutrition science.
Buy this book if: you want to see everything you thought you knew about nutrition torn apart. Taube’s book dismantles conventional nutrition advice – and everything is backed up with science.
#8 Death by Food Pyramid (by Denise Minger)
Death by Food Pyramid is another great book that delves into nutrition science and politics.
Actually, I bought this book based on reading some excellent articles by the author that I came across.
From the very first page, the book certainly doesn’t disappoint; it’s exceptional.
At its heart, ‘Death by Food Pyramid’ is an extensive take-down of the American Dietary Guidelines.
How were the dietary recommendations established? And how did they affect the health of a nation – and the world as a whole? This book explains it all.
Another key point in why this book is so good is the author’s impressive command of language, resulting in exceptional readability.
Every page is engaging, and despite the focus on science and politics, it’s fun to read.
An additional point worth mentioning is that the author covers several different diets, from real food versions of paleo to the vegan diet. However, she leaves bias at the door and recognizes the positives of each way of eating.
As a result of the content and excellent writing, I’d recommend it as a must-read for anyone with interest in nutrition. It would also make a great gift for someone needing a hand to upgrade their health.
Buy this book if: you want to read one of the best nutrition books on the politics and science behind dietary guidelines.
#9 Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (by Eric Schlosser)
Last but not least, Fast Food Nation is an entertaining book focusing on the influential American fast food industry.
First released in 2001, it became an international bestseller. Full of shocking facts, it’s guaranteed to make you question what you’re eating the next time you get tempted by fast food.
The book also deconstructs the entire fast food system; showing how it works and what it does to our food. Some of the reveals made regarding our food are quite sickening.
Although the book focuses on the fast food industry, it covers a wide breadth of topics. For example, how has McDonald’s influenced modern culture? The book covers that. Or maybe you want to know what disgusting things tests on beef show up? You can read about that too.
Also, have you ever wondered what goes on inside fast food factories? The first-hand experiences of factory workers are available in graphic detail.
A well-researched book that exposes fast-food industry secrets, it’s one of the best nutrition books on the shelves.
Buy this book if: you want one of the top nutrition books to show your friends or family to help change their ways. The shocking stories exposed within also make it an exciting read!
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