The Best Nutrition Books for Beginners

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best nutrition books for beginners 

Food affects our body, fitness, cognitive functions, and mood—it basically defines our life quality. But how can you possibly make sense of thousands of nutrition tips and rules? We all know that eating less sugar and saturated fats and consuming more fiber is largely beneficial, but what’s the science behind it? How can you turn this scientific maxim into an approachable action plan on a daily basis? We have a solution.

Here is a list of the best nutrition books for beginners that are exciting to read and full of applicable tips. Start making a change right now!

These nonfiction books and nutrition textbooks are highly approachable. They can benefit not only professionals but also beginners—whether you’re just about to start at college or simply want to get more skilled in a healthy lifestyle. If you plan to step up your healthy eating and fitness routines during this summer break, here is your chance!

Even though aimed at “amateurs,” these best nutrition books for beginners are written by practicing nutritionists, doctors, dieticians, and scientific journalists. All these books are on the cutting edge of the latest scientific advancements. 

Our List of the Best Nutrition Books

Be mindful that these nutrition books are not about rapid weight loss or restrictive dieting — none of these approaches are considered beneficial for your health. What you need is a solid framework that can: 

  • Guide you towards wholesome nutrition
  • Provide you with a solid scientific basis for how our digestive system works and how it influences our bodies
  • Give valuable tips on how to go around “eating healthily.

Mindful nutrition is all about small steps and gradual changes that you can keep up with on a long-term basis! 

eat drink and be healthy best book about nutrition

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

by Walter Willett

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy is about preventive nutrition, if you may call it that. Your main takeaway is that you can reduce the risk of many diseases with the help of a balanced diet—a statement backed up by decades of scientific research. Although some of the tips contained in this beginner nutrition book might sound obvious (“eat more fruits, pal”), knowing all the “whys” behind this statement makes your decisions and motivations more solid. It is a perfect read to get introduced to the world of nutrition and how it impacts our daily lives and well-being.

Understanding Nutrition 

by Ellie Whitney and Sharon Rady Rolfes

This is by far the best introductory nutrition textbook that ever existed, and it is not by chance that Understanding Nutrition is often included in the curriculum for nutrition students. But it’s also recommendable for beginners and non-specialists who want to advance their level of expertise.  The beauty of this textbook is that it provides you not only with the latest scientific advancements in the field of nutrition. It gives you tons of helpful research-grounded tips that you can use in your daily life, no matter if you are a nutritionist or not. Like many other college books, this nutrition textbook is quite expensive. But you can get it as an eTextbook for just $44.99!  If you’re getting this one of the best nutrition books of all time for your college course, check painstakingly the exact edition you need since there are many!

understanding nutrition textbook

how not to die book about nutrition

How not to Die

by Michael Greger and Gene Stone

This is one of the best books on nutrition and fitness that gives accurate advice on longevity and health. In a way similar to Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, this study will reveal to you all kinds of links between specific nutrients and diseases. The authors suggest that a particular diet (don’t confuse it with weight-loss dieting) can help you prevent chronic diseases, while currently, our medicine is only made to treat these ailments. However, some criticism was raised regarding such a direct connection between a specific nutrient and a disease. So don’t take it as a rule of thumb, and don’t shovel kilos of turmeric down your throat. But being aware of these nutrients’ potential benefits is eye-opening, especially if it’s all wrapped up in several doable tips. There is even a cookbook that integrates these tips into satisfying recipes. And topping your salads with a few flax seeds has never hurt anybody, right? 

The Good Gut

by Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg 

Thousands of microorganisms in our guts (who all together form an ecosystem called “microbiota”) impact our immune functions, mood, and weight. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg show that there is a whole cosmos in your guts that you’re probably not aware of. While you can’t entirely control it, you can impact your microbiota by choosing wholesome foods and healthy eating routines. Eventually, you will turn it into “the good gut.” There is also evidence that keeping your guts healthy can reduce the risks of getting asthma and developing allergies. At the same time, an immoderate intake of antibiotics is way more harmful than we might think. This top nutrition book is not solely about nutrition, but it is the best introductory read about our digestive system and how to make friends with it. 

the good gut

dressing on the side book about nutrition myths

Dressing on the Side

by Jaclyn London

Dressing on the Side is an ideal read for anybody who already knows quite a bit about nutrition, microbiomes, intermittent fasting, and wholesome foods… but can’t make any sense of it or distinguish between science and marketing. It is not one of these nutrition science books or “serious science” studies but a funny and conversational book—heavily backed up by research that is unpacked in a way to be easily digested. You will definitely enjoy it and refresh your knowledge about nutrition. Afterward, you’ll be ready to adjust and make small changes that really matter.


Grain Brain

by David Perlmutter

In the buzz about nutrition and healthy eating, we mostly hear about the impact of food on our bodies, aka physical health. But what about our brains? Grain Brain argues for a clear link between the quality of food and our cognitive abilities. While certain nutrients can potentially boost your performance (have a look at the list of these brainy foods), some things are to be avoided. The usual suspects are gluten, sugar, and carbs. It might not sound sensational but learning about their effect on our brains is eye-opening. You’ll think twice before devouring those cookies! 

grain brain

in defense of food

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

by Michael Pollan

An author and journalist Michael Pollan has quite radical stands when it comes to popular interest in nutrition—“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And that’s it. Leave experiments and hypothesis testing regarding nutrition to labs and universities. As ordinary people, we should go back to simply eating.  In this book on health and nutrition, Pollan sees that our explosive enthusiasm about healthy eating might be dangerous, especially when it comes to a rather dangerous obsession with vitamins and supplements. Moreover, Pollan’s readers are reminded about often inappropriate interpretations of scientific studies based on somewhat limited trials. Another problem of our society—we are too much concentrated on “what” we eat instead of “how.” In Defense of Food will definitely give you enough food (hm-hm) for thought.

Eat to Love

by Jenna Hollenstein

By reading Eat to Love, you probably won’t learn a hell of a lot about nutrition. Quite the opposite, and this is the beauty of the book. Jenna Hollenstein digs into our emotional attachment to food and how incredibly high expectations about our nutrition are actually damaging our life balance. So it’s not about what to eat and to avoid, and not how to lose weight—it is about being at peace with your body and your food choices. In other words, it is a guided journey to self-acceptance that starts with food and your approach to it. Eat to Love is especially recommendable for people suffering from eating disorders (but as a supplement, not a treatment on its own). But the book will suit almost anybody who wants to combine mindfulness with a healthy approach to food.

eat to love book about nutrition and mindfulness

why humans like junk food

Why Humans Like Junk Food

by Steven Witherly 

I bet you’ve often wondered why it is so hard to resist fries or an extra serving of ice cream. Although you’ve read all the best nutrition books and you’re backed up with knowledge from thousands of blog posts and youtube videos, you still can’t resist.  Why Humans Like Junk Food gives you both an answer and solace—it does not have to do anything with your willpower. Some food is simply made to be addictive. Steven Witherly opens your eyes to how mechanisms of craving work and how these mechanisms are used by food scientists and chefs—to create more and more “comfort” and junk foods and increase the revenues of food corporations. The book might already sound a bit dated, but it’s an approachable piece of writing that opens up another problem around nutrition. 

These nine books are all scientifically grounded (to the extent that the chosen genre allows) and give a solid piece of advice that you can implement daily. However, each of these authors—journalists, practicing nutritionists, professors, and scientists—promotes their own view formed by years of research in one specific field. They produce informed and well-researched books, but it might be that a particular body of research is (unintentionally) left out. 

So it’s always good to keep your critical thinking switched on when reading popular science books (nutrition textbooks are usually less biased). And it never hurts to read a few books that deal with different aspects of nutrition or argue for conflicting points. There is one more excellent tool to check the validity of nutrition textbooks—check them on Red Pen Reviews. This website accumulates reviews on almost every nutrition book ever published and evaluates it based on scientific accuracy, reference accuracy, and healthfulness. 

Anyways, enjoy your quest to learn more about the science of eating. With these nutrition books for beginners, you will be off for a good start!

Iliana K