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The Healthy Food Directory

by Michael van Straten

listed in nutrition

[Image: The Healthy Food Directory]

I found this to be a delightful and extremely useful book, both from the point of view of presentation, as well as content.

In hardback, bound in the format of a ring binder with section separators, Michael van Straten has assembled an excellent compendium of just about every sort of food you could think of. Each separate section covers an individual food group: various diets (Mediterranean, vegetarianism, macrobiotic, food combining, exclusion and convalescent); fruit; vegetables; nuts, seeds and pulses; meat, fish and shellfish; starchy foods; dairy foods and eggs; herbs, spices, vinegars and fats; sweet foods and drinks; and vitamins and minerals.

Within the section on fruit, various types of fruits – citrus, berry, tropical and dried – are described and illustrated, and likewise vegetables are subdivided into root, soft, onions, fungi, edible seaweed, Brassicas, and fungi and Mediterranean vegetables.

What sets this book apart from many food books is the information and illustrations contained within each individual item. There is a coloured and numbered key of symbols, referring to the particular physiological system which each particular food may enhance, i.e. immune, digestive, respiratory, etc. There are also symbols for food benefits and food warnings and therapeutic uses for various foods. For example, with beetroot, there is a coloured illustration of beetroot, with coloured symbols indicating that beetroot benefits the immune, digestive, heart and circulation, nervous and reproductive systems. There is a short and very interesting historical sketch detailing the development and use of beetroot juice in the treatment of leukaemia and cancer. Also, that beet greens contain beta-carotene, folate, potassium, iron and vitamin C, and are excellent for women in general, especially for those planning pregnancy. Finally, on the same page, there is a coloured box entitled Super Food, saying that beetroot is an excellent treatment for post-viral fatigue syndrome, glandular fever and other debilitating illnesses, and a recipe for a mixture of beetroot, carrot, apple and celery juice.

All in all, there is a lot of information conveniently assembled on each fairly compact page (the book is approximately A5 size). There is an extremely useful chapter about the properties of fats and oils, including short essays about the different types of fats, including saturated, polyunsaturated, mono-unsaturated, essential fatty acids and trans fats, as well as entries about cholesterol, butter, margarine, vegetable and olive oils.

The section about sweet foods and drinks includes highly useful information about sugar, chocolate, honey, tea, coffee and a large section devoted to various types of waters, including many of the more popular brands.

There are also useful summaries of the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, as well as a table with the top 20 foods, indicating the conditions for which they may be therapeutic, i.e., lemons may be good for catarrh, circulatory problems, colds, coughs, hay fever, infection, infertility, insomnia, osteoporosis, sinusitis, sore throats, tonsillitis and varicose veins.

In fact, overall, there is not much that I can find fault with in this book, my only serious complaint being the absence of any references or further reading lists, which, in my opinion, would lend more weight to its authority

Sandra Goodman PhD

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