Monday, June 14, 2010

Truth, lies, blueberries

Sophia Money-Coutts

Blueberries are great for children as they are very healthy, but also good for the brain and memory. iStockphoto

Should you really only eat red meat once a week?

Absolutely. The best thing to do is make something like a beef stew perhaps, trim the fat off it and add a lot of vegetables. Make them the focus of your meal. Alternatives to beef are chicken, game meat and veal. It does have benefits, such as being a rich source of protein and containing a high level of B vitamins, along with iron and zinc. But there aren’t any nutrients in meat that can’t be obtained from other foods. And there are big problems with red meat in general. It increases cholesterol because of the fat content, and it takes a while to digest because it has no fibre content. Fat without fibre basically. MM

Are vitamins a waste of money?

It depends on what your diet is like. Ideally, we should derive all our nutrients from our food but sometimes we need a bit extra to get our bodies on balance. In that case you do need to check on the quality of the brand that you’re buying. A lot of brands make vitamins chemically in laboratories and put them into pills. Then it’s difficult for our bodies to absorb them. You can get some rubbish ones, look at the ingredients and you’ll see the binding agents and stuff they’ve put in to bulk them up. Instead, look for a supplement that actually uses food, such as New Chapter – a great brand that you can get in the UAE. It’s literally like they’ve got a pot of food, boiled it up, dehydrated it, dried it, powdered it and put it into a pill. And they’re the same price as many of the others. LH

Can you can eat fast food every now and then without harm?

Well, the thing with fast food is the amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar. In some cases, if you’ve had a full-fat fizzy drink, a burger and fries, you’ve totally maxed out your daily allowance for calories. And it’s the combination of sodium and the saturated fats in these things that are the real issue. If you’re aware of your body you just don’t want to put that kind of stuff into it.

Are blueberries really worth all the fuss?

I would only have good things to say about them, particularly with regards to the diets of children. They are the ultimate memory food, because they contain such high levels of antioxidants and compounds called polyphenols which are good for the brain – they help neurones connect better basically. And there’s a type of flavanoid found on the blueberry skin called anthocyanin which is cancer-fighting. Plus, they contain the compound called pterostilbene which is anti-ageing. They’re easy to add to your diet – in smoothies, or in a fruit salad. The bags of frozen blueberries are good too. I would use them on a daily basis in different ways. MM

Are coconuts a superfood?

You can class them as one, which is fantastic because here you can buy them fresh for around Dh5.
Some people say the fat content of coconut is high, but that is a load of rubbish. Coconuts don’t make you fat and they don’t increase your cholesterol, that’s very misguided. In a coconut, there is saturated fat but its molecular structure is very different from a regular saturated fat. Take something like butter, which has a very short chain of fatty acids with fewer atoms on it and compare it to coconuts, in which the chain of fatty acids is a bit longer, which means coconut is treated differently by the body.
It goes straight to the liver and really boosts your metabolism. It’s so good for you. LH