Health & Fitness

Check out five timely guides for a more healthy you

Looking to upgrade your diet this year? These books can help you add more healthful recipes to your repertoire, eat "young" and be more mindful of what you put in your mouth.

"Age-Proof Your Body" by Elizabeth Somer; McGraw-Hill, $18.95: This book is a comprehensive guide to help you turn back the hands of time. Maybe that's not really possible, but the "antiaging" food advice and recipes are focused on keeping you young. It includes easy-to-read summaries of research related to age-related diseases and a step-by-step plan for maintaining health and vitality for a lifetime. A week's worth of menus and nutrient-packed recipes are designed to reduce the signs and symptoms of aging.

"American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide" (3rd edition) by Roberta Larson Duyff; Wiley, $24.95: The "complete" in the title is no exaggeration. You will never find a better nutrition primer to have on your shelf. This book is not about recipes. But it's packed with practical advice to help you eat better. Any question you might have about food and nutrition - from allergies to zinc - will likely be answered in this nearly 700-page tome. Best of all, the consumer-friendly information is based on the latest science and not personal opinion.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition Cooking" by Larrian Gillespie; Alpha Books/Penguin Group, $18.95: Maybe you are turned off by the "Idiot's" series, but this book just might convert you. The author is a physician who is passionate about food - and it shows. She takes you by the hand to demystify today's dietary guidelines and then inspires you to be a "nutritional cook" with quick and easy recipes. You'll find a sample seven-da y menu, nutrition information for all recipes and shopping advice to meet specific health needs.

"Esalen Cookbook: Healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur" by Charlie Cascio; Gibbs Smith, $34.95: Filled with beautiful photographs, this cookbook almost transforms you to the tranquil setting of the Esalen Institute, a retreat in California known for its alternative and experiential education. The focus is on organic cuisine with several vegetarian and vegan offerings. Sometimes the advice gets a little too enthusiastic for "natural" ingredients that might not offer the nutritional advantages as claimed. But the book means well. The intent is to satisfy your soul as well as your body.

"Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" by Brian Wansink; Bantam, $25: Get ready for an eye-opening and entertaining book that may change the way you look at food. Based on the author's clever studies on human food behavior at the University of Illinois and Cornell University, the book can help you recognize the "hidden persuaders" that get you to overeat - from container size to low-fat label claims. This book is simply bursting with strategies to help you make mindful choices when shopping, dining out or eating at home.