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An Apple A Day [Kindle Edition]

Joe Schwarcz
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Eat salmon. It’s full of good omega-3 fats. Don’t eat salmon. It’s full of PCBs and mercury. Eat more veggies. They’re full of good antioxidants. Don’t eat more veggies. The pesticides will give you cancer.

Forget your dinner jacket and put on your lab coat: you have to be a nutritional scientist these days before you sit down to eat—which is why we need Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the expert in connecting chemistry to everyday life. In An Apple a Day, he’s taken his thorough knowledge of food chemistry, applied it to today’s top food fears, trends, and questions, and leavened it with his trademark lighthearted approach. The result is both an entertaining revelation of the miracles of science happening in our bodies every time we bite into a morsel of food, and a telling exploration of the myths, claims, and misconceptions surrounding our obsession with diets, nutrition, and weight.

Looking first at how food affects our health, Dr. Joe examines what’s in tomatoes, soy, and broccoli that can keep us healthy and how the hundreds of compounds in a single food react when they hit our bodies. Then he investigates how we manipulate our food supply, delving into the science of food additives and what benefits we might realize from adding bacteria to certain foods. He clears up the confusion about contaminants, examining everything from pesticide residues, remnants of antibiotics, the dreaded trans fats, and chemicals that may leach from cookware. And he takes a studied look at the science of calories and weighs in on popular diets.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Widely known in Canada from his Montreal Gazette column, and work with the Discovery Channel, Schwarcz (Let Them Eat Flax) is an entertaining guide through the tangle of conflicting research studies, advertising claims, special interest groups, age-old myths and popular opinion that make diet a cloudy subject. In short chapters he aims his microscope at such highly touted foods as tomatoes, acai berries, curry and soy; additives like nitrites, artificial sweeteners, vitamins and fluoride; contaminants including pesticides, hormones, trans fats and dioxins; and what, for him, are suspect fads. Schwarcz contends that while there are no magical foods, a diet of mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products and moderation are key to good health. To help readers make informed choices, he ably cuts through many controversies and will likely stir up a few (he challenges those who condemn milk consumption, espouse detoxification and promote kosher foods, for example). Schwarcz makes learning fun by peppering his text with fascinating facts (coffee contains naturally occurring carcinogens, and apples have formaldehyde). More importantly, he leaves readers with a rational framework for evaluating the complex nature of foods and how they affect health. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Publishers Weekly

“Readers will not need a PhD in chemistry to follow along; Schwarcz wisely limits technical terms to the minimum while adequately explaining the chemistry involved in digestion.”

Library Journal
Rachel M. Minkin

“… an entertaining guide through the tangle of conflicting research studies, advertising claims, special interest groups, age-old myths and popular opinion that make diet a cloudy subject. … leaves readers with a rational framework for evaluating the complex nature of foods and how they affect health.”

ForeWord Magazine

"An Apple a Day hashes out hype and irrational panic one chemical compound and one foodstuff at a time. Between ubiquitous cover-ups and endemic hysteria about what’s in our food and our bloodstreams, there’s nothing more helpful than a clear-speaking and apparently non-aligned food chemist who is willing to identify the real risks and defuse the rampant bad information out there. Addressing allegations that companies like Monsanto and Novartis intentionally poison consumers, Schwarcz urges skepticism, because “no company wants to undermine its existence or its profits by marketing a dangerous substance.” Discounting unfounded rumors, Schwarcz identifies a handful of foodstuffs and practices that should cause real concern. The most serious are the rampant use of antibiotics in livestock and indications that trans fats may do serious harm to people’s memories."

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, no citations June 30, 2009
This is a good book, lots of useful information, in a nice "bite-sized" mini-chapter format. I work a lot in the field of nutrition and so recognized that a good deal of the information contained in "Apple a Day" is backed by sound medical research and published literature. In other cases, if you are familiar with the medical literature, his analysis seems a bit superficial. That said, the biggest flaw of this book is that the author did not provide citations so other readers could backtrack and check his data and assumptions.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Chemical Bag October 21, 2009
Overall, I found this book to be comprehensible and reasonable. The main points were there for the reading, and the more comprehensive research was there for those who want something deeper. He says what he's going to say, goes into detail, then sums it all up at the end. I can't ask for much more.

I felt that he did a good job of handling a wide variety of subjects. I agree with other reviewers who say that his chapter on milk was overly simplistic and cursory, which is odd because the rest of An Apple a Day seems very well thought out.

Mr. Schwarcz covers dioxins, BPA, fish oils, caffeine, floridation and various vitamins, among others. The book answered a number of questions I've had for a while, and some I hadn't thought of.

In general, Mr. Schwarcz was skeptical of research funded by people with a stake in the results, but he breaks his own rule a couple of times, which I found odd. I made a note of those times and tended to dismiss those particular research results. Those instances were rare, however, so I didn't find that it took away significantly from the book as a whole.

I would recommend this book for anyone with specific questions about major nutritional talking points, who wants a (mostly) even-handed evaluation of the scientific literature.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I have to completely disagree with the previous review by Warren. It looks like this person doesn't know what he's talking about. "An apple a day" is an excellent book and it will answer a lot of questions you might have about food etc. First of all the author is not a "nutrition authority" as Warren claims but a Professor of Chemistry, so he explores the subject from the scientific point of view. This is not a nutritional guide or a diet book. And by the way, the author exposes many so called "nutrition experts" with degrees from online universities who really don't know what they are talking about, since they have no real knowledge of chemistry or biology. Everybody should read this book to get a better understanding about food, "toxic chemicals" etc. Now it's much easier for me to tell which "nutrition expert" knows his stuff and which one doesn't!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phew and whew. May 23, 2010
By Deb
"Phew! That was a lot to digest, wasn't it?"

Those are the words author Joe Schwarcz uses at the conclusion of his book which is jam-packed with the latest data, debates, and drama about the foods (and chemicals <gasp!> therein) we eat. His book is indeed a full-course meal...and then some.

First, he leads us through a tour of naturally occurring substances in our food supply, including flax, fiber, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, flavanols, vitamins, and minerals. Next, he presents the most controversial issues related to the manipulation of our food supply: fortifying with iron and fluoride; sweetening with natural and artificial sweeteners; manipulating genes in our food; and preserving with sulphites, viruses, and radiation. Then, he takes us up close and personal with the contaminants in our food supply, including pesticides, hormones, BPA, PCBs, and dioxins. And, finally, Joe leads us through the nutritional hype surrounding some of the latest nutritional fads such as goji juice, detoxing, DHEA, and green tea.

It's likely your head will be spinning after consuming all the nutritional chemistry, controversy and and commentary that Joe serves up. (And, to answer his question above: yes, it is a lot to digest!) He does do an impressive job in guiding us through the maze of myths, misconceptions and truths about the foods we eat, but--as food science is rarely a conclusive one--be prepared to be confused at times. Fortunately, Joe offers relief at the end of the book, to help us digest it all:
"There is more to life than worrying about every morsel of food we put into our mouths. What matters is the overall diet...
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, SCIENCE-BASED book May 24, 2009
Dr. Schwarz does exactly what he sets out to do - provides clear, straightforward summaries and explanations of the EVIDENCE that is out there regarding human nutrition and various foods and substances. He does not talk in detail about social aspects of food (production, transportation, cost) or ethical dilemmas regarding food (animal rights, etc.) because that is not the purpose of this book. Being a physician (as well as a vegetarian), I appreciate his evidence-based approach, which is very rational and even-handed. Of course, this book will not be appreciated by those who are primarily motivated by fear and emotion when making food choices, but if you want unbiased INFORMATION, read this book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Key Insights from the Scientist's Point of View
If you have certain existing beliefs about the efficacy of certain foods, you will most likely find yourself maddened or upset with certain chapters, but there are a lot of good... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Darren B.
3.0 out of 5 stars Covers A Lot of Subjects
Most of us don't know what to eat anymore with all the marketing out there, this book touches on a lot of subjects, I suppose it would be hard to go in-depth and keep the book... Read more
Published on October 17, 2011 by Morgaine
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
Joe Schwarcz is highly respected in Canada and he always provides sound, scientific information regarding many of the issues and so-called research that bombards us everyday in the... Read more
Published on March 8, 2011 by mav48
2.0 out of 5 stars Skip It
Although the premise of the book is sound - to examine the accuracy of common food beliefs - the work is unimpressive and completely unhelpful. Read more
Published on September 17, 2010 by Burgundy Damsel
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good, some bad...
I just finished reading this book. It is interesting to me that many of the reviews focus on his chapter on Milk. Read more
Published on December 29, 2009 by Anne
3.0 out of 5 stars Some neat tidbits, but it's somewhat repetative and unfortunately it's...
Near the end of the book, Joe Schwarcz quotes Mark Twain's famous maxim that "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. Read more
Published on November 2, 2009 by Craig MACKINNON
5.0 out of 5 stars An Apple A Day keeps old age away!
Joe Schwarcz tells us what to eat and backs his advice up with the best and most verified lab results from all over the world. Read more
Published on October 5, 2009 by maryann davenport
2.0 out of 5 stars Sound Argument, Badly Structured
In "An Apple a Day" the McGill University professor Joe Schwarcz offers salient useful nutritional advice. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Read more
Published on June 20, 2009 by Jiang Xueqin
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Mixed Bag of Information
The book appears to be a mix of good info and definite biases. For example, the apple section is fun and interesting. Read more
Published on May 13, 2009 by Marjorie C. Abel
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