Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You?

I just came across Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You? from the excellent Marks Daily Apple. Something I’ve wondered for a long time. Given the chance I prefer gentle cooking. I feel flavours and textures are best with this approach. My wife is the opposite. She prefers quicker cooking and loves well done steak.

The article reminded me of Advanced Glycation Endproducts produced through certain types of cooking that can cause damage. Wikipedia starts by saying:

In human nutrition and biology, advanced glycation end products, known as AGEs, are substances that can be a factor in the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and chronic renal failure.

Mark has created a lengthy article covering all sorts of angles.  Some key topics covered are

  • Heterocyclic Amines
  • Advanced Glycation Endproducts
  • Oxidized Lipids

I never see these types of articles as a list of stuff you shouldn’t or should do and basically something to reduce fun. I use it to guide my fun. Reminding me to learn more about marinades and other ways to make cooking easier and the results more exciting.

Health advertising: Why does it treat us like idiots?

Watching the BBC programme the men who made us fat reminds me how the food, and health and fitness industries are all conflicted between making a profit and making us healthy. So nothing improves because everything gets confused with misinformation due to the competition going on. Companies can’t focus on making us healthy because making a profit must come first in such a highly competitive market.

Most that focus on health first have fallen by the wayside over the years. They just haven’t figured out how to make it profitable yet. So I think we need to explore why industry should care about our health. Until then we’ll get substandard products.

My answer is that we need to know more about ourselves. Become better consumers and invest in ourselves. We need to accept that good food, healthy lifestyles cost. We need to value our health enough to invest in it but we also need to understand as consumers why paying more for food is profitable for us. We need to value the quality that higher prices delivers. Until then we can’t blame an industry for chasing price over quality because that is where the profit is. We crave scale and we aren’t doing enough to change the balance.

We need to avoid false economies. Cheaper food at the checkout doesn’t necessarily save us money or add to our lives. Cheap food can leave us tired, bored (no flavour), or prone to over eating. It’s not to say that expensive food is better but to change our own mindset of valuing cost and quantity over taste, texture and quality. The experience of eating and the inherent value of good health.

When we vote with our wallets we don’t ask to be educated, to be shown exactly what something is doing for us. We generally just do what we’re told. We don’t know enough about how we work both as machines and as humans to make good choices and send the right message to the industry.

All of this requires knowledge and education. We just need to know much more about ourselves and how we fit the lives we lead and vice versa.

A rant I know but this  is what I see. Plain facts that are well established are often laughed at by people I come across because they know so little about their own genetics yet these same people are fully informed about general life politics, cars and sports. So it is not intellect thats the problem. Generally people would rather know a lot about everything other than themselves and the people they love. They know a lot about the superficial stuff but little about we actually work as humans.

Ask a motoring fan about his favourite car. He will tell you all sorts, twin cam, double over head compressor, turbo injection. Ask him why he likes it and he knows all about the physics that went into building the car. Ask a fashion fan about their favourite clothes and they will tell you all sorts. Which clothes go with what, how they accentuate this or that. They will really know their stuff.

Ask people about their bodies. Basics like why running at the same time as eating might be a bad idea or how sugar is converted to fat and you will get a blank face. Maybe the human body just isn’t that interesting. Or maybe it is most interesting to those who know how it works.

Until we stop being so naive about how we work as humans then the industry will continue to treat us like idiots. There isn’t much sense behind the decisions we make so there is no profit in using good logic to market foods. Sensationalism sells so sensationalism wins.

What factors make us kick the bucket?

I hear so much about what risk factors there are to make us die sooner and all the things we should do or not do but because I like to research both sides of the story I always find things that contradict each other.

I’m coming round to the view that the overall risk really depends on where we are in our lives at any particular time. I don’t know if I can put this concept across well enough but I’ll try. (more…)

Is modern fruit really healthy?

A great article from paleodietlifestyle asks the question is modern fruit really healthy?. I have asked similar questions like is cereal any better than fruit and cream. So I am glad someone has saved me the effort of researching fruit for myself. I’m quite impressed with the level of research that has gone into this and the unbiased nature of the analysis.

I’m also glad to find that in general modern fruits are ok. Particularly when combined with vegetables and the rest of a balanced diet. I was ready to remind myself that we are excellent at adapting to weaker diets by extracting more of a required nutrient out of our food than we normally would. Evolution has left us pretty well prepared but thankfully it seems that “as part of a balanced diet” modern fruit is just fine. 🙂

Found via @WardPlunet Many thanks to @PaleoLifestyle for answering the question. Good work.

Simple lunches: Avocado, cherry tomatoes and pasta

My personal challenge. Find meals with vegetables as the main attraction that you want to eat time and again. This is my simple attempt. Inspired by Nigel Slater and others. A friend introduced me to Avocado and I’ve been using it ever since. I took the photo heading this post of my lunch. The beauty was just picking this out of the fridge and throwing it together. a Little fresh basil from the window ledge and a little seasoning.

There is something for me about the creamyness of avocado that accentuates every dish it is in. It is not a heavy feeling but light and fresh. The taste is very subtle but it lifts everything. In this dish brings out the strong flavour of the cherry tomatoes.

I’m always looking for ideas. If you have a simple meal like this let me know in the comments below.