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We want them to taste delicious, but do we expect recipes by celebrity chefs to be healthy as well?
A new study published in the British Medical Journal has found that recipes by celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver don't always meet recommended health guidelines.
The study took readymade meals sold at supermarkets and recipes from popular TV chefs, and rated both against nutritional guidelines set out by the World Health Organisation and the UK Food Standards Agency.
Unfortunately both the readymade meals and the recipes, taken from bestselling cookbooks including Jamie Oliver's '30 Minute Meals' and 'Ministry of Food', 'Kitchen' by Nigella Lawson, and 'River Cottage Everyday' by "real food campaigner" Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, failed the guideline test.
While the recipes fared better in their sodium density than the pre-prepared meals, the meals were more likely to comply with the guidelines' recommendations for sugar, carbohydrate and fibre content.
The study concluded that "neither recipes created by television chefs nor ready meals sold by three of the leading UK supermarkets complied with WHO recommendations."
Although they might be delicious, it was found that the "recipes were less healthy than ready meals, containing significantly more energy, protein, fat, and saturated fat, and less fibre per portion than the ready meals."
The study's findings are at odds with Jamie Oliver's public campaign to improve the eating habits of people in the UK, such as his fight to improve children's diets, chronicled in the series 'Jamie's School Dinners'.
The analysis has also earned criticism from food blogger and paleo fan Irena Macri. A recipe high in fat and protein, Irena says, isn't necessarily unhealthy.
"To me a healthy recipe uses real, whole foods with as little processed ingredients as possible," she says, "regardless of whether it's heavy in protein, fat or carbs.
"If you're using prepackaged ingredients and foods, read the label. If you see things you can't pronounce, it's probably not that great for your body."
According to the paleo diet, the traditional food pyramid, with its focus on eating lots of carbohydrates and a calorie in/calorie out equation, is "dated and misrepresented", while fat, long the bad guy of healthy eating, is viewed as an essential nutrient.
"Fat...plays an integral role in our brain function, metabolic processes, hunger control, ageing processes and disease prevention," says Irena. Avoid trans fats, she says, but embrace "healthy doses of saturated fat from coconut oil, grass fed animal meat and butter, seafood as well as monounsaturated fat from avocados, nuts and olive oil and polyunsaturated fats, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids, from oily fish."
It's not surprising then to learn that Irena is a fan of celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson.
"I love that they promote real food, what our grandparents use to eat and cooking from scratch and with love. Taking time out to eat and nourish your body is so important and it's not going to come from a frozen meal."
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