Wales could be slim and healthy if the nation just adopted three simple dietary principles, according to top food author and nutritionist Dr Zoë Harcombe.
The role of meat in a healthy diet was one of the main topics of debate at the Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) annual conference in Builth Wells which attracted a major gathering of farmers, policy makers and food industry professionals.
“First, we should all just eat real food – from farms and not factories,” said the author of ‘The obesity epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?’ “Then we should eat a maximum of three times a day. Unless you are a cow, or want to be a size of one, stop grazing! We eat the whole damn time and it’s got to stop!
“Finally, we should choose food for the nutrients it provides. Regarding macronutrients, there are essential proteins and essential fats (essential in nutrition means something we must consume), but there are no essential carbohydrates. Yet that’s what we’re told to base our meals on.”
The 200-strong conference crowd at the Royal Welsh Showground was told that: “The complete protein and the essential fatty acids – in the form we need them – are found in meat (especially red), fish (especially oily), eggs and dairy.
“We also need to prioritise our food intake for micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. There are foods that I know to be super healthy, for instance liver. As well as being an outstanding source of retinol, B vitamins and iron, liver has four times the vitamin C of an apple!” said Zoë.
There are many misconceptions around red meat consumption and its impact on our health, it is sometimes avoided by consumers because it contains fat. Zoë’s PhD focused on dietary fat and she took to the HCC Conference stage to share her findings. “Fat is so misunderstood – it’s life vital, not harmful – and fat is that last thing that steak is. A typical steak is 71% water, 21% protein, 7% fat and just 2% of that fat is saturated – again – not that this is bad for us.”
She added: “Oily fish can have twice the total fat and 1.5 times the saturated fat of red meat. Olive Oil – the elixir of the Mediterranean diet – has 14 times the total fat of a steak and 7 times the saturated fat. Of course, you wouldn’t eat 100 grams of Olive Oil but just one tablespoon has more saturated fat than a 100g pork chop.”
Dr Zoë Harcombe’s conference slides can be found on the HCC website: https://meatpromotion.wales/en/events/hcc-conference-2019