The following is a brief summary of each part in Nutrition For Dummies, 4th Edition. You can use this guide as a fast way to check out what you want to read first. One really nice thing about this book is that you don't have to start with Chapter 1 and read straight through to the end. Au contraire, as the French like to say when they mean "on the contrary." You can dive in absolutely anywhere and still come up with tons of tasty information about how food helps your body work.
Part I: The Basic Facts about Nutrition
Chapter 1 defines nutrition and its effects on your body. This chapter also tells you how to read a nutrition study and how to judge the value of nutrition information in newspapers, magazines, and on TV. Chapter 2 is a really clear guide to how your digestive system works to transform food and beverages into the nutrients you need to sustain a healthy body. Chapter 3 concentrates on calories, the energy factor in food and beverages. Chapter 4 tells you how much of each nutrient you need to stay in tiptop form. Chapter 5 details some of the rules on dietary supplements — the pills, powders, and potions that add nutritional punch to your regular diet.
Part II: What You Get from Food
Chapter 6 gives you the facts about protein: where you get it and what it does in your body. Chapter 7 does the same job for dietary fat, while Chapter 8 explains carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and that indigestible but totally vital substance in carbohydrate foods — ta-da! — dietary fiber. Chapter 9 outlines the risks and, yes, some newly proven benefits of alcohol beverages.
Chapter 10 is about vitamins, the substances in food that trigger so many vital chemical reactions in your body. Chapter 11 is about minerals, substances that often work in tandem with vitamins. Chapter 12 explains phytochemicals, newly important substances in food. Chapter 13 is about water, the essential liquid that comprises as much as 70 percent of your body weight. This chapter also describes the functions of electrolytes, special minerals that maintain your fluid balance (the correct amount of water inside and outside your body cells).
Part III: Healthy Eating
Chapter 14 is about hunger (the need for food) and appetite (the desire for food). Balancing these two eating factors makes maintaining a healthful weight possible for you. Chapter 15 on the other hand, is about food preference: why you like some foods and really, really hate others. (Broccoli, anyone?) Chapter 16 tells you how to assemble a healthful diet. It's based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans created by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, plus some recent updates from the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, so you know it's good for you. Chapter 17 explains how to use nutritional guidelines to plan nutritious, appetizing meals at home. Chapter 18 shows you how to take the guidelines out to dinner so that you can judge the value of foods in all kinds of restaurants, from the posh white-tablecloth ones to fast-food havens.
Part IV: Food Processing
Chapter 19 asks and answers this simple question: What is food processing? Chapter 20 shows you how cooking affects the way food looks and tastes, as well as its nutritional value. Chapter 21 does the same for freezing, canning, drying, and irradiating techniques. Chapter 22 gives you the lowdown on chemicals used to keep food fresh.
Part V: Food and Medicine
Chapter 23 explains why some food gives some people hives and presents strategies for identifying and avoiding the food to which you may be allergic. Chapter 24 is about how eating or drinking certain foods and beverages may affect your mood — a hot topic these days with nutrition researchers. Chapter 25 tells you how foods may interact with medical drugs — an important subject for anyone who ever has taken, now takes, or ever plans to take medicine. Chapter 26 tells you how some foods may actually act as preventive medicine or relieve the symptoms of certain illnesses ranging from the horrible-but-not-really-serious common cold to the Big Two: heart disease and cancer.
Part VI: The Part of Tens
Could there even be a For Dummies book without The Part of Tens? Not a chance. This part (Chapters 27, 28, and 29) provides ten great nutritional Web site addresses, lists ten common foods with near-magical status, and last — but definitely not least — lays out ten easy ways to cut calories from food.
Icons are a handy For Dummies way to catch your attention as you slide your eyes down the page. The icons come in several varieties, each with its own special meaning:
Nutrition is full of stuff that "everybody knows." This masked marvel clues you in to the real facts when (as often happens) everybody's wrong!
This little guy looks smart because he's marking the place where you find definitions of the words used by nutrition experts.
The Official Word icon says, "Look here for scientific studies, statistics, definitions, and recommendations used to create standard nutrition policy."
This time, the same smart fella is pointing to clear, concise explanations of technical terms and processes — details that are interesting but not necessarily critical to your understanding of a topic. In other words, skip them if you want, but try a few first.
Bull's-eye! This is time- and stress-saving information that you can use to improve your diet and health.
This is a watch-out-for-the-curves icon, alerting you to nutrition pitfalls such as (oops!) leaving the skin on the chicken — turning a low-fat food into one that is high in fat and cholesterol. This icon also warns you about physical dangers such as supplements to avoid because they may do more damage than good to your health.
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A time for giving and receiving, getting closer with the ones we love and marking the end of another year and all the eating also. We eat because the food is yummy and plentiful but we don't usually count calories at this time of year. This book will help you do just this.