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Nutrition science is a constantly evolving field full of new (and often conflicting) information. For students in nutrition degree programs, understanding the data behind their recommendations is essential to helping clients.

Our list of the best nutrition books strives to give students a comprehensive look at the various theories and approaches to nutrition science from the field’s leading researchers and practitioners. Topics include using nutritional interventions to prevent and manage diseases, reviews of different diets, weight loss, and more. Whether they are required or supplemental reading, these books can help introduce students of all backgrounds to research-backed information that’s essential to their health and well-being.

Learn how we picked the best nutrition books.

The 20 Best Nutrition Books

How Not to Die

“How Not to Die” by Michael Greger and Gene Stone

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Our top pick for nutrition books is “How Not to Die,” Dr. Michael Greger’s New York Times bestseller about how to use diet and nutrition to prevent premature death. The book examines the top 15 causes of premature death in America, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and explains how nutritional interventions can often produce better results than pharmaceutical drugs.

The China Study

“The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health” by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II

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“The China Study” is a critically acclaimed, rigorously researched book that argues in favor of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Loosely based on the China—Cornell—Oxford Project, the book examines the connections between consumption of animal products and a range of chronic diseases. Public figures such as Bill Clinton and Dr. Sanjay Gupta have praised the book for its life-changing insights.

Deep Nutrition

“Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan

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In “Deep Nutrition,” the Shanahans look to ancient civilizations for modern nutritional wisdom. The book illustrates how our ancestors used food and drink to optimize health and well-being. Drawing on insights from ancient Egyptians to the Maasai people in Kenya and everyone in between, “Deep Nutrition” presents what the authors call the “four pillars of world cuisine.”


“Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan

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Michael Pollan is one of the world’s most influential pop-science writers. “Food Rules” presents seven common sense yet powerful rules for what to eat. In signature Michael Pollan style, this No. 1 New York Times bestseller is clear, concise, and witty, and presents a simple approach to nutrition that anyone can follow.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide

“Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide” by Roberta Larson Duyff

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Written by a well-respected nutritionist, “Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide” is considered the gold-standard nutrition resource. The book contains information on nutrition at every stage of the life cycle and takes a practical approach to scientific research. It suits both consumers and nutrition professionals.

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

“Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy” by Walter Willett

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Harvard Medical School professor Walter Willett’s “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy” critiques the carbohydrate-dominated public health nutrition guidelines and also lays out the issues with popular diets such as Atkins, the Zone, and South Beach. The book presents a research-backed approach to eating well by ensuring the optimum ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

In Defense of Food

“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan

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The second Michael Pollan book on this list, “In Defense of Food” can be summed up in Pollan’s seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The goal of this book is to help you become a conscious consumer. Pollan also critiques the state of existing food science and calls for better, more modern approaches to research.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing

“Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

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Phyllis A. Balch’s “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” is a practical, A to Z reference book for drug-free remedies using dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Besides the basics of good nutrition, the book details how to combine vitamins and minerals for optimal absorption, how to treat more than 250 conditions without prescription medications, and what you can learn from ancient nutrition traditions such as Ayurveda.


“Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell and Howard Jacobson

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Building on the wildly popular book “The China Study” by the same author, “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” critiques nutrition science for studying chemicals in isolation and argues instead for a holistic approach to nutrition research. Deeply rooted in rigorous yet practical science, this book is appropriate for students, professionals, and the general public.


“Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes

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In “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It,” the bestselling author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” returns with a critique of existing nutrition science, especially the misleading “calories in, calories out” explanation of how we get fat. The book is part informational and part easy-to-follow diet. It provides practical insights about what causes weight gain and what you can do to combat it.


“Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss” by Joel Fuhrman, MD

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Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” (Revised Edition) provides a six-week weight loss plan centered on healthy, whole foods that are nutrient-rich and satiating. The diet addresses not only weight loss, but also longevity and well-being. Dr. Fuhrman also addresses the role of food addiction in weight issues and provides practical tips for what to do about it.


“Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Mark Hyman, MD

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“Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” helps readers navigate the confusing, overwhelming world of modern-day nutrition. Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the founding practitioners of functional medicine, walks you through every food group and points out what traditional nutrition advice gets wrong. He also explains his belief that food is medicine and that nutritional interventions can be as effective as prescription medicine treatments.

Healing with Whole Foods

“Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford

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“Healing with Whole Foods” is a comprehensive guide for traditional Chinese medicine that acupuncture degree programs often include as a textbook. It’s also about the building blocks of nutrition and how to use food to heal common ailments. The book concludes with more than 300 plant-based, nutrient-dense recipes.

Intuitive Eating

“Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

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In “Intuitive Eating,” authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch argue traditional diets are to blame for people’s inability to lose weight. They say the rules and restrictions of diets stop you from listening to your body and hinder your ability to eat when you’re hungry and stop before you’re stuffed. As an antidote, they offer their Intuitive Eating program, which teaches you to recognize and honor your body’s natural hunger signals.

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

“Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston Andrew Price

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“Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” is based on the decade-long research that author Weston Andrew Price conducted in hundreds of cities in 14 countries around the world. Rather than study sick people, Price studied the healthiest populations on the globe and set out to understand how they achieve and maintain optimal wellness. His book presents ancestral nutritional wisdom and critiques modern processed foods.


“Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition” by Lily Nichols

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“Real Food for Pregnancy” debunks myths about prenatal nutrition and provides research-backed advice on what to eat and what to avoid during pregnancy. Written by a registered dietitian and nutritionist who specializes in prenatal nutrition, the book lays out the nutrients required to sustain a healthy pregnancy and grow a healthy baby. The focus is on supporting both mother and child.

Wheat Belly

“Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD

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In “Wheat Belly,” renowned cardiologist William Davis argues that eliminating wheat from your diet can help heal chronic ailments, lose stubborn belly fat, and prevent fat storage. Davis considers wheat the single greatest contributor to America’s obesity epidemic, particularly because modern-day wheat is so highly processed and stripped of nearly all its nutrients.

Good Calories

“Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes

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“Good Calories, Bad Calories” critiques the dietary advice of recent decades, which overwhelmingly advocated for low-fat diets. Drawing on the science of how the body uses insulin and stores fat, the book argues that consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates, not fat, is the leading cause of disease and obesity in America.

Grain Brain

“Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg

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Dr. David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg’s “Grain Brain” is both informational and action-oriented: It contains an overview of the role carbohydrates play in disease and aging, as well as a four-week plan to keep your brain healthy and sharp. The book teaches you to regain control of your “smart genes” so you can live a long, healthy life.

Integrative Nutrition

“Integrative Nutrition: A Whole-Life Approach to Health and Happiness” by Joshua Rosenthal

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“Integrative Nutrition” by Joshua Rosenthal argues there is no one-size-fits-all diet. We are all different, and our bodies respond differently to diets. Rather than advocating for the single best way to eat, the book provides insights into how food corporations manipulate consumers, why your body craves certain foods and what you should do about those cravings, and how cooking at home can boost your health.

How We Picked the Best Books on Nutrition

To create our list of the best nutrition books, we started with more than 123 nutrition books that we gathered from bestseller lists published by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other publications. We considered industry leader recommendations and the author’s expertise when narrowing our list down to these 20.

We also looked at overall popularity based on materials available online, such as reviews and frequent recommendations on Goodreads. We focused on books with a broad intended audience, accessible presentation of nutrition science, and usefulness. Reading any one of these books can help you understand more about the field of nutrition.

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