Health journalist and college professor Robert J. Davis tackles food-related myths and truisms such as “Is coffee good for you, or bad?” in his new book “Coffee Is Bad Good For You.”
Davis explains the science—or lack of—behind common food claims and questions, subjecting each to a “truth scale” that he devised. In addition to the coffee question, some of the conundrums taken on by Professor Davis include—
- Is red wine really good for you?
- Is it okay to eat bagged “triple-washed” salad greens without washing it?
- Is high-fructose corn syrup really that bad for you?
- What about aspartame and other artificial sweeteners?
Davis relies on solid evidence to separate fact from fiction and truth from half-truths. His book contains a wide range of reliable references to back up his conclusions, and perhaps best of all, writes in an accessible and witty style that is often funny and always easy to understand.
The “truth scale” Davis employs rates food claims thusly: A “yes” means that “the claim is believable because there’s solid supporting evidence from at least several randomized trials or large cohort studies with consistent results,” while a “no” says that “the supporting research may be very limited or nonexistent.” His scale also includes “half-true” and “inconclusive” where the evidence is contradictory.
A chapter that readers may find particularly helpful offers “Ten Tips for Deciphering Diet and Nutrition Claims.”
As for the coffee question, his scale gives a definite “no” to the idea that java’s bad for you. Studies show it provides a number of health benefits. Just go easy on the cream and sugar and don’t drink too much of the stuff.
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