Best Nutrition Books of the Year

These aren't the year's bestselling nutrition books, but they should be. Instead of hype and hyperbole, these 5 books serve up a heaping helping of common sense and sanity, which is why they should feel right at home here.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #310

I'm always a little discouraged to see lists of the bestselling books about food and nutrition. So often, the books that get the most attention are the ones that make the most sensational claims, or that reduce complex science to oversimplified generalizations, or that abandon science altogether. Although they often dominate the airwaves, they rarely contribute to a healthier, wiser, or more sustainable relationship with food.

So this week, I want to shine the light on 5 books that may not have made many bestseller lists but are really worthy of your attention. .

Calling All Myth-Busters!

The first two books on my list are near and dear to my heart because they tackle pervasive myths and memes about nutrition and shine the welcome light of reason on all kinds of nonsense. 

Book #1: Unmasking Superfoods: The Truth and Hype About Acai, Chia, Quinoa, Blueberries and More, by Jennifer Sygo, RD

Sygo isn't going to try to talk you out of your chia-goji granola or your kale smoothie. She does, however. examine the science behind some of the sillier claims, and puts the potential benefits in perspective for you.  Even more valuable, she reminds us that there are countless unheralded (and cheaper) superfoods in the produce aisle that are just as nutritious. Then, she turns the tables to rehabilitate foods that she feels have been unfairly maligned. 

If you love a good debunking as much as I do, Sygo's book deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Book #2: The Diet Cult: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US, by Matt Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald has written lots of books and articles geared toward endurance athletes but in this book, he takes on our culture of dietary dogma, examining why we are so susceptible to it. Why is it that we spend so much time arguing about which rigid dietary philosophy - be it Paleo or ketogenic or vegan or whatever - is the one true path to health?

See also: The Diet Secret That Will Blow Your Mind


As Fitzgerald argues, "There is no such thing as the healthiest diet. To the contrary, science has established quite definitively that humans are able to thrive equally well on a variety of diets. Adaptability is the hallmark of man as eater. For us, many diets are good while none is perfect."

Remind you of anyone you know? Fitzgerald is singing my tune here. He's even coined the term "healthy eating agnostic" to describe what thinks of as a sensible approach. Healthy eating agnostics "eat everything, but they eat a lot more of the healthiest foods (such as vegetables) than they do of the least healthy foods (such as soft drinks)."

Fitzgerald has even assembled a sort of ranking system to help guide you toward the healthier end of the spectrum - although you could probably put together your own list based on what you already know. Although this approach is going to be most effective for someone who also exercises regularly and isn't dealing with specific medical issues such as pre-diabetes, it's such a welcome infusion of anti-dogma.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.