I'll fess up right here that I have strong feelings about food and health. I believe that food and health are directly related and that food is the most important indicator of health, over exercise or anything thing else.
I am not always perfect in what I eat, although I do pretty darn well, I must say, at staying in accordance with my beliefs about what is healthy. And what is healthy food? Well, my friends, it pretty simple really. You should eat plant based foods in the form closest to how it's grown (Bulgar wheat is better than whole wheat bread which is better than white bread, for example) and you should limit fat and sugar. Foods from animals (meat, dairy, eggs) are not health food no matter if it's the egg white or salmon you're eating. The research is clear on this. It's not a gray area.
Prove it to me, you say? Well many authors/doctors have written books just to do that. Read them and really think about what they say. It makes sense. It's proven.
The first book I read that opened my eyes was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It's a great book with lots of good information. It's also a weight loss book and can be a little extreme because of that. It might not be the best for a first book unless you're really motivated.
If you have a family, kids in particular, who's health you care about, check out Fuhrman's Disease-Proof your Child. It's great for kids who are still growing and has some good information for athletes who want to build muscle, as well, all while maintaining a healthy diet.
Fuhrman has also come out with a new set of books called Eat for Health with all the same information about nutrition that you can find in Eat to Live, but with a more gradual plan to follow, making it a good choice if all of this is new to you.
I own all three of the above books and, if you live locally and promise to return them, I'm happy to lend them to you. Be advised, though, I don't love Fuhrman's recipes with a few exceptions. Learn about food here, then go find other recipes or adapt ones you like. One good place to find recipes is here - Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. Be warned, though, that not all of her recipes are truly fat free and some have sugar. All that I've tried are very good, though!
But, wait! Fuhrman isn't the only one! Many other doctors are all about health through diet and they say mostly the same things.
Check out Dr. John McDougall. If you like your carbs, this is the man for you. He has a great number of books and cookbooks. The McDougall Program is a good place to start.
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn ran an amazing study on a group of patients who's cardiologists said no more could be done for them and it was, more or less, time to wait to die. If you're primarily concerned about heart health, this is the book for you. Of course, following any of these food plans (they are all based on the same principles and research!) will help your heart health as well as fight cancer, diabetes and all of those lifestyle diseases. Dr. Esselstyn's book is called Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
Next up is Dr. Esselstyn's son, whom you may have heard of. He has been around lately on morning shows, in the news and on the radio. His name is Rip Esselstyn and he's a fire fighter/ex pro triathlete in Austin, TX where he convinced his whole crew to go veg. The results are amazing. His book is an easy read with familiar recipes. It's called The Engine 2 Diet.
Now, Rip's book isn't the best for the science behind this style of eating. I'm reluctant to call it a diet because it shouldn't be. A diet is perceived as the way you eat when you're trying to loose weight and is considered a temporary measure. We eat this way all the time (with some falling off the wagon, to be sure), but it's not a diet. It's how you should eat just all the time.
Back to the science, though. A great book for the science of it all is The China Study by Dr. T. Collin Campbell. While some of the book is based on the China study, there are more studies and research to back it all up. Check it out. I recommend this one particularly for those who are interested in cancer.
Speaking of cancer and all of those other lifestyle diseases, there is a man who's practically written a book about each. Dr. Neal Barnard is consistent about how you should be eating (because it's all the same!), but he has a book to address your particular concern. Check out these titles: Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes, Breaking the Food Seduction, The Cancer Survivor's Guide, Turn off the Fat Genes, Foods that Fight Pain, Eat Right, Live Longer, Food for Life, A Physician's Slimming Guide, and The Power of your Plate.
There are more out there, too. Why don't you know about this? Why doesn't everyone know how to fight cancer, diabetes and heart disease? Because there's no money in it. How can that be? Knowing how not to get cancer should be a great money maker, right? Well, only if there is something marketable. Only if there is a pill, a treatment, something you pay for. This is free. You just change your food. Not only is it free, but it's going against the grain of where the money is - dairy, fast food, meat - people with powerful lobbies. You have to find it for yourself. And you can. Just go check out one of these books. Get started on the path. You have the power.