Review: Wellness Foods A to Z, by Sheldon Morgen, M.D.

by Rebeca on August 9, 2009

Wellness Foods A to Z, By Sheldon Morgen, MDWellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers
by Sheldon Morgen, M.D., and the Editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter
Rebus Inc., 2002
640 pages, illustrated

Let me cut to the chase—the book’s title says it all by stating it is an indispensable guide, but I’d like to add valuable as well. The Wellness Foods A to Z is one of my favorite reference books on food and nutrition and provides readers with a cornucopia of information about the nutritional value of whatever your taste buds desire.

The book is divided by four sections. Part one is titled “Eating for Optimal Health” and provides readers with strategies to eat right such as the mainstays of keeping intake moderate, include colorful vegetable in your diet, drink enough fluids, and keep sodium intake to no more than 2,400 mg per day (about a teaspoon). Further in the section, there are brief explanations about carbohydrates, fibers, protein, cholesterol, etc. Each of these brief include  a “wellness recommendation.”  For example, in the section about fiber, experts recommend about 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day from a variety of foods along with the suggestion to drink plenty of fluids to avoid bowl blockage.

Part two is complete guide to vitamins and minerals and includes, what it does, the recommended levels, tips and facts, and where to find them.  For instance, let take a look at Vitamen K:  

  • Without Vitamin K our blood would not clot. 
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin K can occur in people with malabsorption syndromes or luver disease or who are on long-term or broad-spectrum antibiotics. 
  • Newborns are deficient in Vitamin K and are given an shot of V-K to prevent excessive bleeding, which can be life-threatening in a baby.
  • V-K is essential for bone formation and may be helpful in maintaining strong bones in older people
  • The recommended level is 90 micrograms for women; 120 microgram for men
  • A precaution is noted for people who take anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin should avoid large servings of V-K because it can cancel out the effects of the drug.
  • Where is VK found: spinach, lettuce, watercress, and other leafy veggies as well as broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, vegetable oils, and soybean oil.

Part three breaks down the basics and provides short explanations about each food category and finally, part four, which is the major part of the book, is all about food from A to Z.  Each food item consists of the following:

  • Nutritional profile
  • In the market
  • Nutritional chart with calories and key nutrients
  • Sidebars that include serving suggestions
  • How to choose the best
  • Preparing to use
  • Plus, a beautiful colorful photograph of the food

For kiwifruit, we see a lovely photograph of the fruit in its whole stage and sliced open. We learn that kiwi was to New Zealand from China in 1906. There’s a description of the fruit and the taste. From the nutritional chart we see that two medium kiwis total to 93 calories and it’s pretty high in fiber about 5 grams, and only 8 mg of sodium (these are the items, I tend to look for). if I’m shopping for kiwis, I should look for:

. . . plump, fragrant specimens that yield to gentle pressure. Unripe fruit has a hard core and a tart, astringent taste. If only firms kiwis are available, ripen them for a few days before eating them. Baby kiwifruit should be purchased firm and eaten that way.

The editors note to ripen the fruit, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple for a day at room temperature. Also noted is the skin can be eaten once the peach-fuzz is  rubbed off. The skin is very thin and is chock-full of nutrients and fiber.

I use this book often when I have a question about food. Tonight, my husband is making Porcini Veal Chops with a side dish of braised fennel and salad. I won’t touch the veal, but I will eat the mushrooms, the salad, and the fennel. Since I don’t know much about fennel and all its good stuff, my Wellness Foods A to Z will clue me in.



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