Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: An Evidence Based Approach to Dietary Phytochemicals

This is the first book I read from the group that arrived on Friday. I did not want to put this one down. Now I am going to say this book is not for everyone but if you are a nutrition geek, like I am, this book is great! If I had been by myself this book would have been finished in one sitting. The chapters are as follows:

1. Fruit and Vegetables
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
3. Legumes
4. Nuts
5. Whole Grains
6. Coffee
7. Tea
8. Carotenoids
9. Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin
10. Curcumin
11. Essential Fatty Acids (omega-3 and omega 6)
12. Fiber
13. Flavonoids
14. Soy Isoflavones
15. Isothiocyanates
16. Indole-3-Carbinol
17. Lignans
18. Organosulfur Components from Garlic
19. Phytosterols
20. Resveratrol

The chapters are organized very similarly. The phytochemical chapters (8-20) discuss: bioavailability and metabolism, biological activities, disease prevention, disease treatment, sources, safety, recommended intake and references. Each chapter is well laid out and clearly written. While some of the science is “over my head” I found that I was able to understand each section after a careful reading.

If reading the chapter headings brings any question to mind post a comment or send me an email. I will be happy to let you know the answer if the question you have is covered by the book. This book answered questions I didn’t know I needed an answer to, which is the sign of great reference book to me.

If you have a serious interest in nutrition I think you will really enjoy this book. I found it to be full of interesting bits of information. As an example of the types of information the book contained I want to share what I learned about coffee. Coffee contains cafestol and kahweol which have been found to raise both total cholesterol and LDL. But these compounds are largely removed by paper filters. Meaning my beloved espresso, Turkish coffee and French press coffees are the ones to avoid if you have high cholesterol or LDL. According to the meta-analysis (statistical summary of studies) those consuming unfiltered coffee experienced an average increase of 23 mg/dL in total cholesterol and a 14mg/dL increase in LDL. Additionally the polyphenols in coffee can bind to nonheme iron (plant sources) and inhibit its intestinal absorption making coffee a bigger problem for vegans than omnivores. Knowing this will make it easier for me to stay away from espresso. Darn it!

The book is full of facts like this. If you are information junkie I highly recommend this book. I know it will be a great reference that I will turn to often. As usual this is something I purchased, it was not sent to me for review.

Unrelated note:

The weather today has been absolutely glorious. The temperatures didn’t get out of the 70’s and there has a been a gentle breeze all day. It was so nice to open the windows! I was quite tired of having the air conditioning on. I spent some time outside today and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Later I spent quite a long time chatting electronically with my buddy Alexandra who is in Lima, Peru. She just got back from Machu Picchu and wanted to check in so I knew she was safely back to her hotel. I can’t wait to hear her stories in person and see the pictures she took. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and there were no incidents which I happy to hear. Something tells me Dan will be happier than I was to hear this. ;-) Other than a little food poisoning from some street food her trip has been good thus far.

Because I spent so much time goofing off today there won’t be any recipe to speak of to post. For dinner we had quinoa, raw julienned collards, and salsa with spiralized zucchini and raw cheese sauce and more salsa on the side. For nights when I don’t have things planned I make things like this often. Quinoa is quick cooking and salsa adds flavor to meals without fat. I added julienned collards because they are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and are therefore healthier when consumed raw. Spiralized zucchini with sauce is another easy food to prepare. I love the texture of the spiralized veggies so this is a summer staple for us.

Talk to you all tomorrow. I am off to spend a little time with Dan.


  1. One of my most oft used kitchen shortcuts: cooking quinoa in a Japanese-style rice cooker. Perfect quinoa -- red, black or white -- every time at the touch of a button. Of course, one could argue that making quinoa in a pan isn't exactly rocket science. But when a crazy three-year-old boy is sous chef, every shortcut helps! Our rice cooker is a Zojirushi with multiple settings -- brown rice, white rice, mixed rice, porridge and quick rice. Effective not only for quinoa but other whole grains. Spelt, kamut, farro, millet, barley and buckwheat have all been winners cooked in the Zojirushi. Here's a link to a piece on rice cooker multitasking from the late great Gourmet:

  2. Heather,

    I have not tried quinoa in the rice cooker. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing it. :-)

    I miss Gourmet too. =(


  3. Thanks for the review of this book, it looks really interesting! And a whole chapter on curcumin, wow. I am adding this to my want list, for later this summer;)

  4. Janet,

    This book is definitely right up your alley! I know I will be turning to this often for reference.

    talk to you soon,

  5. The book looks great and it most definitely IS the kind of thing this nutrition/science/fact geek loves! And that meal doesn't look too shabby, either, recipe or no recipe ;)

  6. Ricki,

    You will love this book! I was fascinated with it from the first page. ;-)

    I am going to post the raw cheese sauce after I have tweaked it a little.

    talk to you later,

  7. Thanks to your blog, I have started to use raw collards for my lunchtime rollups! I've got some leaves that are too small for a rollup. Your dinnertime display of julienned collards under quinoa is the perfect solution!

  8. Tracie,

    I had collard wraps for lunch yesterday. They are the perfect substitution for flour based wraps to me. ;-)

    You can also add the julienned collards to salad either by alone or with other greens.

    I hope you are having a good Tuesday,

  9. The book definitely sounds interesting! I did not know about the coffee and non-heme iron issue, but in one of my vegan books, it discusses how drinking certain types of tea with meals is not recommended because it interferes with non-heme iron absorption as well. I wonder if the compounds in coffee are found in tea as well? Another question is I am curious about what is says about soy isoflavones.
    On a side note, Heather mentioned cooking quinoa in a rice cooker - I can definitely vouch for that shortcut. Perfect quinoa every time! Also great for green lentils.

  10. Possum,

    Yes the book agrees that consuming the flavonoids in tea with meals inhibits nonheme iron absorption by approximately 70%. There was no distinction on different types of tea mentioned. I would guess black would be less of problem because it less healthy and probably contains less flavonoids

    Regarding soy I am not certain what specifically you are interested in. But the book said, "soy isoflavones have been consumed for humans as part of soy-based diets for many years without any evidence of adverse effcts." The author goes on to write that the soy isoflavone genistein has been shown to interferre with the ability of tamoxifen to work in mice. Also that biopsy confirmed that women consuming 200mg/d of soy isoflavones over 2 to 6 weeks before surgery did not increase breast tumor growth. My personal opinion is that what organic whole soy is fine in moderation but I stay away from soy isolates which means most processed vegan food like tofu pups, commercial veggie burges, that sort of thing.

    Thanks for tip on the lentils in the rice cooker. Clearly I don't use my rice cooker as often as I should. When the weather heats back up and the AC is on I will be using it more. :-)


  11. Ali,
    Great info and thank you for the snippet. Actually, that is exactly the info I was looking for about the soy. I feel the same way about the soy products as well and we only eat organic soy in moderation (tofu and tempeh).
    For the lentils, I find the green or brown ones for best in the rice cooker. Have a good night :)

  12. Possum,

    I assumed you were interested in what I was looking for about soy. Great minds think alike.

    Thanks for specifying with lentils I would probably have reached for red first. ;-)

    I hope you have a great evening too,

  13. I've never developed a liking for quinoa. I know it's supposed to be nutritious, but I just don't care for it.

    Jim Purdy
    The 50 Best Health Blogs

  14. Jim,

    Some brands of quinoa need to be rinsed to remove the bitter saponins on the grain. Have you tried rinsing it well before cooking? Once the saponin has been removed quinoa has a very mild almost bland flavor.


  15. Not to tempt you to the espresso, but I just this morning read an article about how coffee has been shown to be protective against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Diabetes (type 2). It reminded me of this post and I thought you might find it interesting...or at least I did, lol. Interesting how it can do both "good" and "harmful" things for ones health, no?


  16. Courtney,

    Thanks for sharing that. I had read it somewhere as well. It is interesting how coffee can be good and bad.


  17. Jim,

    I can't say I actually like any grains or starches unless they are seasoned well. ;-)



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