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An Apple a Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths Abou the Foods We Eat


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...

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590514580
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 12/28/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 967,104
  • Product dimensions: 6.96 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Schwarcz

Joe Schwarcz is director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society in Montreal. He teaches courses on nutrition and the applications of chemistry to everyday life. His informative and entertaining public lectures range from nutritional controversies to the chemistry of love. Schwarcz has received numerous awards, including the Royal Society of Canada's McNeil Award, and is the only non-American to win the American Chemical Society's prestigious Grady-Stack Award. He is the author of six books, including Let Them Eat Flax. He was also the chief consultant for the blockbuster titles Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal and The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs. A regular guest on Canadian television, and the host of weekly radio shows in Toronto and Montreal, Schwarcz also writes a weekly column for The Gazette in Montreal, where he lives. Visit him at

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Naturally Occurring Substances in our Food Supply

An Apple a Day 7

Tomatoes and Lycopene 12

Cranberries and Procyanidins 18

Grapefruit and Furanocoumarins 22

Blueberries, Anthocyanins, and Pterostilbene 26

Citrus Fruits and Super Flavonoids 29

Acai Berries and Antioxidant Potential 33

Fish and Omega-3 Fats 37

Flax, Omega-3 Fats, and Lignans 44

Canola and Alpha-Linolenic Acid 48

Olive Oil and Oleic Acid 51

Soy Protein and Soy Isoflavones 55

Whole Grains and Insoluble Fiber 61

Oats and Soluble Fiber 64

Beans and Inositol Pentakisphosphate 68

Cabbage and Indoles 71

Broccoli and Sulforaphane 75

Spinach, Corn, Squash, and Lutein 80

Curry and Curcumin 83

Chocolate and Flavanols 87

Coffee Beans and Caffeine 91

Grapes and Resveratrol 97

Wheat and Gluten 104

Cinnamon and Methylhydroxychalcone 108

Vegetables and Salicylic Acid 112

Carrots and Carotenoids 115

Vitamins from A to K 119

Spinach and the B Vitamins 122

Oils, Nuts, Whole Grains, and Vitamin E 127

Cod Liver Oil and Vitamin D 133

Milk and Calcium 137

Part 2 Manipulating Our Food Supply

Fortifying with Iron 145

Flavoring with Salt 149

Enhancing Taste with Monosodium Glutamate 153

Sweetening with Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup 158

Cutting Calories with "Non-nutritional" Natural Sweeteners 163

Cutting Calories with "Non-nutritional" Artificial Sweeteners 171

Improving Taste with Artificial Flavors 188

Preventing Botulism with Nitrites 192

Preserving with Sulphites and Propionates 196

Preserving with Viruses 200

Preserving with Radiation 204

Coloring with Food Dyes 208

Improving Health with Bacteria 212

Boosting Immunity with Glutathione 217

Adding Fluoride to Water 223

Supplementing with Vitamins 230

Manipulating Genes in Our Food 237

Farming Organically 241

Part 3 Contaminants in Our Food Supply

Pesticide Concerns 247

Acrylamide in Fried and Baked Foods 252

Antibiotic Residues 256

Hormones in Meat 260

PCBs in Fish 263

Trans Fats 267

Benzene in Beverages 274

Trans-4-Hydroxynonenal in Fried Foods 278

Substances Leaching from Plastics 281

The Bisphenol A Issue 288

Dioxins 296

Part 4 Tough to Swallow

The Miracle of Goji Juice? 301

Kosher Food Hype 304

The Questionable Health Properties of DHEA 307

Alkaline Nonsense 310

Losing Weight with Green Tea? 314

The Myth of "Detox" 318

Whom to Believe? 322

Conclusion: Is There a Solution to the Confusion? 327

Index 331

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