I sometimes wonder if Heisenberg wasn't a nutritionist rather than a physicist, because in terms of uncertainty, nutrition science currently takes the biscuit
I sometimes wonder if Heisenberg wasn’t a nutritionist rather than a physicist, because in terms of uncertainty, nutrition science currently takes the biscuit. One day we are told that such and such a foodstuff is bad for us, but the next day another study shows it to be good. After reading about a recent about face, I started wondering if you could construct an entire dinner menu from such ingredients.
Let’s start with avocado and prawns. I know it is a clich?d dish, but remember that to a first approximation all clich?s are true. The avocado used to be out because it contained more fat than any other fruit. Now however, it is in because the fat with which it is loaded is ’good’ fat, high in monounsaturated fats. It is also replete with the antioxidants without which no self-respecting foodstuff would be seen dead nowadays. The prawns are protein rich and low in fat, and though they have been condemned as cholesterol stuffed, the cholesterol they contain is the dietary sort, not blood cholesterol.
The main course could be a good steak. Red meat was believed only a few years ago to cause everything from heart disease to hairy palms. Now it is recognised, especially if lean, as a valuable part of a balanced diet, contributing iron, protein and fatty acids. An excellent accompaniment would be a grilled tomato. This innocent fruit, a member of the nightshade family, was once considered poisonous, except to the Puritans who thought it an aphrodisiac, which to a Puritan probably amounted to the same thing. According to American legend, a British agent once tried to assassinate George Washington by slipping tomatoes into his supper. No wonder the British lost the War of Independence. Nowadays the tomato is prized not only for its taste and colour but also its lycopene, a potent carotenoid antioxidant.
And potatoes are no longer the ultimate guilt trip. This delicious vegetable was once out of favour because it could be poisonous. It is now understood that spuds are only poisonous if you let them sprout, or expose them to light so long that they turn green. Remember; although greens are good for you this does not apply to potatoes, as the green bits contain solanine, a poisonous glycoalkaloid. Your potatoes, an excellent energy source full of fibre and antioxidants, can be rendered utterly delectable by the addition of a knob of butter. Butter compensates for its high fat content by being a source of fat-soluble vitamins, trace elements like selenium, butanoic acid (used by the colon as an energy source), lauric, or dodecanoic, acid (which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and speeds the metabolism), and glycospingolipids (which also protect against gastrointestinal infections).
Finally we could round off the meal with a dark chocolate mousse accompanied by rhubarb comp?te. Chocolate contains potent antioxidants of the flavonoid family, notably flavanols and procyanidins. It tastes pretty good too. And as for rhubarb, once regarded as poisonous, especially for some odd reason if consumed with pineapple, it is now back in favour with dieticians and chefs alike. Yes, the leaves do contain oxalates, but who in his right mind munches rhubarb leaves?
And, do not hesitate to have a glass or two of red wine with the meal, because it too is a valuable source of - guess what? - antioxidants. If ever they discover that antioxidants are bad for us we are in deep trouble.
By the way, if the weather is nice, try eating al fresco. Even the Australians, who for years have been preaching to the populace to avoid the sun at all costs because of their high incidence of skin cancers, have now realised that they are in danger of growing a race of pale but interesting people bent double with osteoporosis because of a lack of the vitamin D that moderate exposure to sunlight generates in the skin.
By all means try the menu if you fancy it, but do get a move on before more studies appear and the ingredients are out of fashion again.