Thursday, 20 March 2014

Saturated with food facts as researchers try to butter us up!


Walking past a “vintage” shop on the street today I spotted what seemed to be the contents of my mother’s house in the sixties set out on the pavement, leatherette chairs and settee with a matching black and tan Formica sideboard and “starburst” mirror. I am probably not alone in remembering this layout as most of my friend’s parents had exactly the same set of furniture as customers choices were a little limited back then.

The same could be said of the food on offer, we knew each week what was going to be put on the table in front of us, Friday cod and home-made parsley sauce, Saturday eggs, beans and homemade chips, Sunday roast with bubble and squeak on Monday and a stew with the leftovers on Tuesday, Wednesday usually bangers and mash and Thursday liver and onions. The first time we had a tin of spaghetti with toast still sticks in my memory and thinking back, this was the start of growing awareness of what you could buy in shops.

Polyunsaturated fats do not protect consumers against heart disease

Still everything we ate was made from scratch and supplemented with plenty of home grown vegetables and fruit, we ate butter, cooked eggs and bacon in a frying pan and drank full fat milk, put sugar in our tea and all in all were a fairly healthy and slim bunch of individuals. So it was with interest I read the reports this week regarding the British Heart Foundations research that basically said swapping butter for a sunflower spread does not seem to lower the risk of heart disease.

Not long ago we were all told to limit our egg intake to no more than three per week and hey presto, they are now being advocated as packets of protein and we can safely “go to work on an egg” as the marketing campaign used to say. An apple a day kept the doctor away before the dentists starting to raise concerns about acid on the teeth, chocolate was a no-no before it was found that a chunk of dark chocolate can reduce the chances of having a stroke or heart attack by 20% over 5 years.

A spoonful of sugar helps swallow the bitter facts about health research

At the moment it is sugar that is, if you read the papers and magazines, enemy number one, and with all the dark and dire warnings anyone visiting from outer space would assume we were all busy sprinkling cyanide over our breakfast cereals. How long will it be before research decides that some sugar is quite good for us in the long run?

As with all things in life, everything in moderation is probably the best watchword for consumers, and the more we have to choose from, the more we should remember that fact. I take most research findings with a pinch of salt these days, (the proper stuff and not the Lo- salt I hasten to add) but I did like the findings about chocolate, particularly when the report said that one chunk a day could have the same result as exercising for half an hour.

Let us know your food fact likes and dislikes – we’re listening!

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