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Contemporary Nutrition for Latinos: Latino Lifestyle Guide to Nutrition and Health, by Rodriguez JC. New York, NY: Writers Advantage, Inc; 2003. 173 pp.
Contemporary Nutrition for Latinos: Lati-no Lifestyle Guide to Nutrition and Health is a great little book that brings nutritional knowledge to the general public with an emphasis and a focus on the needs of Latinos but without limiting its wider appeal. In fact, the title places some constraint on what is otherwise an excellent example of nutrition education for everyone, not just Latinos. The author mixes fundamentals of nutrition and metabolism with life cycle nutrition and lifestyle choices, and provides the advice to help the reader solve almost any dietary problem. All of the information is written in a clear and concise style that makes what otherwise would be difficult topics, easy to understand.
The book has 13 chapters. The first 4 chapters-Healthy Eating; Food Guides; Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats; and Vitamins and Minerals-contain the bulk of the more traditional basic nutrition knowledge. The following 3 chapters introduce the readers to the uses and roles of herbs, phytochemicals, dietary supplements, and traditional, natural, and functional foods in our daily life-topics of great importance and wide presence in the current discussion of nutrition in our society as a whole. Chapter 8 gives practical advice on how to be a savvy consumer, from shopping and reading nutrition labels to preparing and storing food. The next 4 chapters deal with nutrition as it relates to the life cycle, weight and special diets management, and the nutritionally conscious approach to snacking, eating out, and holiday eating. The final chapter puts all the others in perspective, with concise sample menus that incorporate a wide spectrum of dishes.
Each chapter contains an introduction, usually oriented to the Hispanic/Latino reader, and general information on the topic being covered. The introduction is followed by 4 sections: Consumer Tips, which provides information on how to select, purchase, and prepare foods; Issues, addressing controversial and current nutrition information; Contemporary Latino/Hispanic Life, about the merging of traditional and new behaviors; and Food and Nutrition in This Millennium, which covers trends and new information related to the topic of the chapter. Each chapter contains tables and diagrams that illustrate some of the most difficult information in a very proficient way. Two of my favorites are a table entitled "Why Do You Want to Lose Weight?" and an illustration of the fatty acid composition of common fats and oils.
One of the most valuable aspects of this text is its refusal to use the simplistic view of Latinos as a uniform and isolated community. Rather it embraces the multiculturalism that comes from within this vast community, as well as from living in the larger multicultural American society and the transactions that result from it. All of this is represented in the realistic approach of the author to the foodways of Latinos in the United States.
Dietitians working with Latino communities should read this book to have a better understanding of the ways to approach nutrition education and dietary changes in a simple, culturally adequate way. It will also make a great gift for those interested in learning about nutrition and food even if they are not of Latino descent.
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