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SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life    by Steven Pratt & Kathy Matthews order for
SuperFoods Rx
by Steven Pratt
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

SuperFoods Rx builds on the premise that 'some foods are better than others for your health' to present 'fourteen known nutritional powerhouse foods' and their positive effects. These 'flagship' foods are beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and yogurt. The authors warn us that mindless consumption of food, combined with poor exercise habits can lead to chronic disease, rather than 'a vigorous extended life'.

The book includes a useful 'Lifestyle Pyramid' that combines reminders about exercise, hydration and sleep habits with recommended servings (and serving sizes) of the various food categories. Each 'SuperFood' is introduced with historical background and details of nutritional value and health benefits. I was intrigued to learn that broccoli (recently touted to lower the risk of cancer) was cultivated by the Romans. And did you know that soybeans have been cultivated since the 11th century B.C. in China? Tufts University research on the impact of blueberry supplements on aging rats was particularly impressive (assuming that the results carry over to humans). There's information on how to pick real whole grains, and how to cook them. I learned that the most potent (in terms of health) part of the orange is its peel, so it's wise to use it in cooking or drink juice with pulp. And I'll eat more spinach after reading that it helps prevent macular degeneration.

I liked the idea of the 'Consumer Action Alerts' interspersed through the text - e.g. regarding advocacy for whole grain pizza dough or reduced sodium in canned products - since accessibility of healthy foods makes it so much easier for us to make good choices. The authors also consider environmental concerns - while recommending wild salmon as one SuperFood, they discuss potential mercury contamination in fish, and environmental issues with farmed salmon. For those needing ideas on how to cook SuperFoods, a large section of the book is dedicated to mouth-watering menus from Golden Door chef Michel Stroot. Some recipes that appeal to me are 'Breakfast Broccoli Frittata', 'Pumpkin Soup', 'Crab-Stuffed Papaya' and 'Orange-Ginger Chicken with Apricot-Almond Couscous'. This section is followed by a chapter on 'Nutrient Analyses' of the book's daily meal plans, and another on specific product recommendations.

I was encouraged to note that my family already follows many of these recommendations - though I now plan to incorporate more fruit, spinach, soy and nut consumption, and to put a copy of the authors' 'Lifestyle Pyramid' on my own fridge. I like the approach of SuperFoods Rx, that is telling us which specific foods are good for us and why, and highly recommend the book to you as well.

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