Fruit and vegetables lower risk of depression – new research reveals

Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables people eat lowers their risk of clinical depression, new research has found.

The study discovered that eating, for example, four extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day can boost people’s mental health to such an extent that it can offset half the negative psychological impact of divorce and a quarter of the psychological damage of unemployment.

Other studies have used people’s subjective responses to surveys to discover a link between eating fruit and vegetables with improved wellbeing.

But this is one of only a few studies that has found objective evidence of the association between fruit and vegetables and psychological health.

Redzo Mujcic, of Warwick Business School, author of the paper alongside Andrew Oswald, of the University of Warwick, said: “This is an interesting finding and makes the case for an empirical link between fruit and vegetables and improved mental wellbeing more powerful.

Redzo Mujcic, of Warwick Business School co-authored the paper

Andrew Oswald, University of Warwick co-author

“The effect is not small as well. If people eat around seven or eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day the boost in mental wellbeing is as strong as divorce pushing people the other way, to a depressed state.

“We found being made unemployed had a very bad and significant effect on people’s mental health, greatly increasing the risk of depression and anxiety. But eating seven or eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day can reduce that by half.

“And the effect is a lot quicker than the physical improvements you see from a healthy diet. The mental gains occur within 24 months, whereas physical gains don’t occur until you are in your 60s.

“This is an important preliminary finding as governments and healthcare policymakers are currently more interested in the determinants of mental ill-health, such as clinical depression and high levels of anxiety, rather than people’s subjective assessment of their wellbeing as used in previous research.”

Dr Mujcic and Professor Oswald used data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, which has been done annually since 2001.

In it respondents are asked if they have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety along with several questions about their diet and lifestyles.

The study used a representative sample of 7,108 respondents who answered they had not been diagnosed with depression or anxiety in 2007, to see if their diet could predict their chance of depression two years later.

The results revealed an inverse relationship between fruit and vegetables and future depression or anxiety – ie the more fruit and vegetables people ate the less likely they were to be diagnosed with a mental illness in later periods.

“If people increase their daily intake of fruit and vegetables from zero to eight they are 3.2 percentage points less likely to suffer depression or anxiety in the next two years,” said Dr Mujcic.

“That might not sound much in absolute terms, but the effect is comparable to parts of major life events, like being made unemployed or divorced.

“We tested for reverse-causality – ie whether it might be that depression or anxiety leads to people eating less fruit and vegetables – but we found no strong statistical evidence of this.

“However, the next natural step is to do a randomised controlled trial to examine the causal relationship between diet and psychological wellbeing in society.”


Your Christmas diet may not be as bad as you think

Mulled wine-tasticWe all know the importance of a balanced diet and try very hard to be good (most days anyway!) so it adds to the occasion to indulge yourself a little at Christmas.

Despite best intentions, the indulgence gradually accumulates; starting with Christmas parties, canapés and quick present handover lunches with your friends, reaching its peak on Christmas day.

However, after a day or so of goose fat enveloped golden roast potatoes, syrup soaked sponge puddings and continued exposure to the Roses tin, we are all feeling the effects of these goodies and are seriously considering a drastic detox diet.

But wait, you may not have been as naughty as you think; many people eat much more fruit and veg at Christmas then any other time of year.

If you have a peek at other people’s shopping while patiently (!) waiting in line at the supermarket, you will notice many items which are missing the rest of the year. Family packs of mixed nuts jostle for space with dried fruit, satsumas, dates and the crimbo veggie favourites – the dreaded sprouts, the not so dreaded parsnips and good old carrots. There may even be some melon for a continentally inspired starter, or Iceberg lettuce for a seventies legend. Last but not least, there is the carton of orange juice for the obligatory bucks fizz on Christmas morning.

So, with a little more effort we can all up our fruit and veg quota and assuage our consciences just enough to put off the obligatory guilt until the New Year at least. Even if you just substitute a couple of bad things, or add one extra fruit to your diet you will be reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Heart Research UK has come up with the following tips to help you in this quest

  • Choose from the wide variety of different colours and textures available in the fruit and veg aisle at Christmas
  • Make your own cranberry and apple sauces so you can control the sugar content; cranberries are packed full of vitamins.
  • Start the day with a smoothie made from exotic fruits.
  • Serve vegetable crudités with dips, made by adding chopped onions, chives, or herbs to crème fraîche: a refreshing change from crisps.
  • Try some dried ‘superberries’ as an alternative snack.  Acai and goji berries are nutrient dense fruits that carry many health benefits.
  • Don’t just stick to cheese and sausages for cocktail sticks, try pineapple pieces, satsuma segments, dates, grapes and cherry tomatoes or you could make some mini dried fruit kebabs.
  • Mix red wine with orange juice or cranberry juice and add cinnamon and spices or a mulled wine sachet then heat gently. This will result in a healthier mulled wine and fill your house with a delicious Christmassy aroma.

We will definitely be trying at least one or two of these – already a big fan of the homemade mulled wine on Christmas Eve! Enjoy…


Myths about hydration

Water We don’t actually need to drink eight glasses of water a day…

Elixir attended the British Nutrition Foundation’s conference on hydration last week and came away with a few very interesting facts about water.

1. The amount of water we need and use is different from person to person

2. We can survive more than a few days without water

3. Most of the water we ingest comes naturally from food

4. Most liquids add to our hydration, including fruit juice, milk, teas and coffee

In general, we are not very clued in about water and hydration – most people in the UK have a very loose understanding about the signs of dehydration.

We look for clues such as darker urine to decide whether or not we are dehydrated – the truth is that darker urine can be caused by a number of things – including vitamin supplements.

Thirst is just nature’s way of telling us our blood water concentration is dropping, not an indication that we are about to become dehydrated.

Serious dehydration is almost impossible to achieve – unless you are stuck in a desert or paralysed with no access to liquids. As mentioned above, it is possible to survive without water for some time; a woman who had been in a coma for years (in the US) survived for 13 days without any liquids after it was decided to turn off her live-saving machine.

The most shocking thing we learned was the truth behind the ‘eight glasses of water’ myth.

Research showed that over 70% of people can quote the recommended amount of water of six to eight glasses.

The truth is, the recommended amount of water is 2.5 litres per day and we ingest most of it in food. The less dense the food, the more water it contains – meaning fruit and vegetables contain the most. 

As we get older we are more susceptible to the marketing ploys of drinks companies – we start to buy into the ‘health’ drink to lower our cholesterol and raise the pro and prebiotic levels of our stomachs.

Beware of drinks advertising an increased level of antioxidants as well – a study found that drinking tea gives you a better level of antioxidants over 24 hours than many health/fruit based drinks. 




Crispy Salmon with Marinated Crudités

Crispy Salmon with  Marinated Crudités


FB-Salmon-w-Marinated-Crudites_p [640x480].jpgServes 4
Preparation time
: 10-15 minutes + 1 hour marinating
Cooking time: 4-6 minutes

100g/4oz fennel
100g/4oz tomatoes
100g/4oz celery
100g/4oz salad onions, trimmed
50g/2oz flat leaf parsley
100g/4oz carrots, peeled
100g/4oz red radishes
50ml/3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 2 lemons
4 salmon steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To garnish:
Lemon wedges
Sprigs of dill

1. Thinly slice the vegetables and chop up the herbs. Place them into a large bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Heat the remaining olive oil and pan-fry the salmon steaks on high heat for about 2-6 minutes each side or until crispy brown.
3. Put the salmon onto 4 hot serving plates served with the marinated vegetables.
4. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprigs of dill.

Cook’s Tip:
Replace the salmon with cod steaks or other seasonal fish.

National Vegetarian Week (UK) – 18-24 May 2009

London This May it’s time to dust off your recipe books and make a fresh start for summer. Grab your shopping list, freshen up your table and try out a few new ingredients as you brush up on a healthy, cheap and delicious way of eating. From 18-24 May it’s National Vegetarian Week 2009 and the Vegetarian Society has some great tasting meat free recipes for you to try. Call + 44 (0)161 925 2000 to get hold of our new veggie pack or visit

National Vegetarian Week 2009 18-24 May 2009 is sponsored by Cauldron Foods. Cauldron Foods together with the Vegetarian Society are encouraging more people to discover the possibilities and benefits of vegetarian cooking.

From tasty morsels for sharing at barbecues and picnics, through to everyday meals for friends and families or cheap meals for under £5 – vegetarian food has something for everyone. The Week is also a great time to brush up on your foodie know how. The often asked questions of where do you get your vitamins and minerals from? Won’t I be short of iron?

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) is the annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle. Last year over 1400 businesses, schools, pubs, caterers, libraries and retailers all got involved with finding out the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.
More information:
· The Vegetarian Society of the UK (founded in 1847) was the first organisation worldwide to adopt the term “vegetarian”. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or slaughter by-products.

Healthy lifestyle boosts anti-ageing enzyme


Los Angeles: A healthy diet, taking regular exercise and relaxing can boost levels of a longevity enzyme, say scientists.

In a new study scientists measured levels of the telomerase enzyme in men who were required to make positive lifestyle changes. The men were suffering from low-risk prostate cancer.

The patients ate a diet low in sugar and fats and rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetables. They were also required to walk at least 30 minutes daily and take part in anti-stress exercises.

The researchers, whose report has appeared in the medical journal, The Lancet Oncology, measured the amount of the enzyme after three months. The results revealed that levels in the blood has increased by 29 per cent , along with a drop in LDL(bad) cholesterol.
The bottom line is that the enzyme helps support the length of telomeres – these are tiny protectors of the DNA and keep inflammation and other ageing activity away from them. The length of telomeres is an indicator of biological ageing.

As people age, their telomeres get shorter and they become more susceptible to certain illnesses which are associated with ageing.

Experts believe this process is at the heart of many age-related diseases, and may even place a final limit on human lifespan.

Professor Dean Ornish, of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, California, who led the study, said increases in telomerase levels were beneficial and could be quickly changed.

He said: “To our knowledge, we have reported here the first longitudinal study showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes – or any intervention – are significantly associated with increases in cellular telomerase activity levels.

“The implications of this study are not limited to men with prostate cancer.Comprehensive lifestyle changes may cause improvements in telomerase and telomeres that may be beneficial to the general population as well.Larger studies are needed.”


Get more folate to beat the winter blues


A study in Japan has found folate, a vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, reduced the symptoms of depression amongst men by 50 per cent in over 500 subjects studied.

This might be news to many of us, but it seems nature may have known all along.
Depressing winter is also the season for veggies packed full of smile-inducing folate.

Cabbage, purple sprouting brocolli, beetroot, parsnips, leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts, spring greens and endives are the veg you should be munching on.
Because they’re in season right now they’re at their tastiest and most nutritious – full of folate. Visit for some delicious seasonal recipes.

And don’t worry girls, although the study was conducted on males, other research has also found some links between low levels of folate with depression in both sexes. Chances are chowing down on your greens could leave you feeling a little sunnier too.

The role of diet in breast cancer – public debate in London in 2008


London: A public debate on the role of diet and breast cancer is being held in London by the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation and top scientist Professor Jane Plant On Wednesday 27 February 2008, the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation is launching a groundbreaking campaign, One in Nine, to raise awareness about how breast cancer cases are rising (now affecting one in nine women) and the major the role of diet in this disease.

Speakers include Professor Jane Plant, Juliet Gellatley and Dr Justine Butler.
Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, New Hunt’s House, Guy’s Campus, off Great Maze Pond and Newcomen Street, London SE1, 6.45pm for 7.15pm start.
£5.00 Admits One

Nearest tube and mainline station: London Bridge.
For further information or press passes for the talk, contact: Dr Justine Butler or Juliet Gellatley on 0117 970 5190.

More information below:

Professor Jane Plant joins the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation to raise awareness of the links between diet and breast cancer The public talk – One in Nine – is on Wednesday 27 February 2008 at Lecture Theatre 1, New Hunt’s House, Guy’s Campus, off Great Maze Pond and Newcomen Street, London SE1. Standing alongside the VVF will be eminent academic and accomplished speaker, Professor Jane Plant. Find out why breast cancer cases are rising, now affecting one in nine women and hear about major the role of diet.

Juliet Gellatley: founder and director of the largest vegetarian and vegan organisation in Europe, Viva! and of the health charity the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation (VVF). Juliet will explain what it is about modern dairy farming methods that makes cow’s milk so harmful.

Dr Justine Butler: VVF senior health campaigner and author of the VVF’s new ground breaking One in Nine report and A Fighting Chance guide. Justine will discuss the latest research on how red meat and dairy are linked to breast cancer and explain how you can protect yourself by changing your diet.

Professor Jane Plant CBE: top scientist, author of best sellers Your Life in Your Hands – Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer and world authority on how animal products (and other food and lifestyle
factors) can cause breast cancer. Jane will describe her own moving story of how she overcame breast cancer by changing her diet. Hear how she used her scientific training to research diet and breast cancer and devise a diet plan that has helped many other women.

The Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation is increasingly being seen as the UK’s premier authority on health and dietary matters with a growing number of health professionals and journalists contacting us for information.

To read the report and guide go to:
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Real food shock – at London festival


London: We’ve hand-picked the very best produce and ingredients that we could find to bring you the biggest Farmers Market in the country and you, being as passionate about produce as we are, should come and meet some of the best producers, taste their delectable produce, learn from them and challenge your tastebuds.

Over 500 producers will gather at Earls Court 24-7 April 2008 to celebrate food that is good, clean and fair. With all the talk about the integrity, quality, provenance & sustainability of food in the UK and around the world, we thought it would be a great idea to show you the choices that are out there.

The big difference with the Real Food Festival is that the producers that are hand picked to attend are also heavily subsidised to exhibit. This means that you will get the opportunity to meet some of the best and smallest producers in the world and eat some of the most fabulous food that will leave your mouth watering and your toes tingling!

As well as the amazing producers, you will also be able to learn how to bake bread with food guru Barny Haughton of Bristol’s renowned Bordeaux Quay, taste wines with the maker, challenge yourself in a food debate, tantalise your tastebuds in a taste workshops, meet some pigs, follow a produce trail or just chill on a hay bale and listen to a farmers story. Real Food is passionate not preachy, the integrity of the festival will challenge the way most of us think about food on a day to day basis and will inspire a wide audience to change their eating habits in favour of a more sustainable way of eating and enjoying produce.

The Festival’s Taste workshops will teach you all sorts of things from the differences between cows and goats milk to wheat and malt beers. The workshops provide the ultimate test for your taste buds, created by eco-gastronomes Clodagh McKenna and Sebastiano Sardo of Foodiscovery.

The Real Food Festival is not just a London event. We have just returned from a gastronomic road trip around the country where we have been meeting local producers, from Jersey to Orkney. You will be able to meet the people who reared the pigs, planted the carrots, milked the cows and crushed the grapes: you can taste their produce, learn about it and take it home.

Eco Icons such as Zac Goldsmith, fully support our festival, ‘The way we eat, what we eat, where our food comes from, these are central issues. The Real Food Festival will change the way we think about food and give producers and consumers an opportunity to meet and share their passion for authentic quality produce’.

We promise to celebrate the diversity of modern artisan food, from producer to plate. Visitors will be able to meet and speak to 500 hand-picked producers from Britain and the world.

Visit our website The Real Food Festival to get updates of our journey. Tickets which can be bought online cost £15.

Folic acid may protect against Alzheimer’s

New York: Folic acid may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, say US doctors.

The finding follows a study of nearly 1,000 elderly people which discovered that those with higher levels of this B vitamin were less likely to suffer mental deterioration.

The research was carried out by Columbia Univesity Medical Center spent six years examinng the diet of 965 healthy adults with the average age of 75. The one in five who went on to develop Alzheimer’s had the lowest levels of folic acid.

Folic acid has also been found to be useful in improving the memory of people aged over 50.

Folic acid, a B vitamin is found mostly in dark green vegetables such as asparagus but is easily destroyed by cooking. Supplements provide a form of the vitamin more easily taken up by the body. And the researchers recommended that both natural and supplement forms of the vitamin were the best choice for older people.

Veggies halt mental decline

Chicago: Vegetables help fight mental decline, says a new report that investigated the eating habits of 2,000 men and women in the Chicago area.

On measures of mental sharpness, older people who ate more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared about five years younger at the end of the six-year study than those who ate few or no vegetables.

The research adds to mounting evidence pointing in that direction. The findings also echo previous research in women only.
Leafy Greens

Green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale and collards appeared to be the most beneficial. The researchers said that may be because they contain healthy amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells.

Vegetables generally contain more vitamin E than fruits, which were not linked with slowed mental decline in the study. Vegetables also are often eaten with healthy fats such as salad oils, which help the body absorb vitamin E and other antioxidants, said lead author Martha Clare Morris, a researcher at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

The fats from healthy oils can help keep cholesterol low and arteries clear, which both contribute to brain health.

The study was published in this week’s issue of the journal Neurology and funded with grants from the National Institute on Aging.

“This is a sound paper and contributes to our understanding of cognitive decline,” said Dr. Meir Stampfer of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

“The findings specific for vegetables and not fruit add further credibility that this is not simply a marker of a more healthful lifestyle,” said Stampfer, who was not involved in the research.
Mental Function

The research involved 1,946 people aged 65 and older who filled out questionnaires about their eating habits. A vegetable serving equaled about a half-cup chopped or one cup if the vegetable was a raw leafy green like spinach.

They also had mental function tests three times over about six years; about 60 percent of the study volunteers were black.

The tests included measures of short-term and delayed memory, which asked these older people to recall elements of a story that had just been read to them. The participants also were given a flashcard-like exercise using symbols and numbers.

Overall, people did gradually worse on these tests over time, but those who ate more than two vegetable servings a day had about 40 percent less mental decline than those who ate few or no vegetables. Their test results resembled what would be expected in people about five years younger, Morris said.
Physically Active

The study also found that people who ate lots of vegetables were more physically active, adding to evidence that “what’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” said neuroscientist Maria Carillo, director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The study examined mental decline but did not look at whether any of the study volunteers developed Alzheimer’s disease

Fruit and veg protect against Alzheimer’s

Nashville: Fruit and vegetable juices have the potential to protect against the devastating brain disease Alzheimer’s, according to US scientists.

They examined the effects of drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week amongst 2,000 people for 10 years and discovered that it reduced the risk of the disease by 76 per cent compared to those whose intake was less.

Doctors believe that the findings confirm that diet can play a huge role in whether you get the disease. It is thought that protective substances in fruit and vegetables known as polyophenols, protect the brain from accumulations of bad proteins.

The study carried out at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and participants consumed juice with high concentrations of pulp and peel which contain the most polyphenols.

Bright vegetables protect eyes from ageing

New York: Brightly coloured vegetables are good for the sight and may even help fight eyesight degeneration caused by ageing.

Scientists at the University of Winconsin have found that brightly-coloured yellow and green vegetables contain chemicals which can help protect the eyes against damage in later life.

Eating lots of vegetables such as peas, broccoli, squash and sweetcorn before the age of 75 meant lower rates of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the phrase used for the deteriation that occurs with ageing.

The study looked at 1,700 women between 50 and 79. It found that those under 75 were less likely to develop AMD if over the previous 15 years they consistently ate lots of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin – found in leafy green vegetables, sweetcorn, squash, broccoli and peas.

Although the scientists said more research is needed they believe the substance in these vegetables act by protecting against blue light, which can damage the area around retina It might also help prevent the condition by making the eye healthier and more immune to stresses by strengthening eye membranes and mopping up harmful molecules.

There is currently no cure for AMD and but its progress can be slowed by a healthier lifestyle.

People who eat antioxidant fruit and veg have less wrinkles

Berlin: People who eat lots of fruit and vegetables, especially tomatoes and red peppers, are likely to have fewer wrinkles, according to a new study.

And event those who don’t can get younger skin if they change their diet to include more vegetables and fruit containing antioxidants.

The study in the latest issue of the German magazine, The Dermatologist, conducted at the Berline Charite Hospital found that people with higher amounts of antioxidants in the skin had fewer wrinkles and therefore looked younger.

Antioxidants are the substances that scientists believe fight free radicals, unstable molecules that are a factor in ageing, skin damage and cancer.

Antioxidants contained in the body are credited with preventing the majority of free-radical damage. Unfortunately the body is not capable of producing enough antioxidants on its own.

Antioxidants include vitamins and minerals such as A, C, D and E as well as beta carotene. They are contained in various vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, kale green tea.

The German study showed that vegetarians had more antioxidants in their bodies than non-vegetarians. The article also warned that it was better to get them naturally rather than overdosing on dietary supplements.

Vegan diet better for slimmers

Washington: Low-fat vegan diets are more successful that those including meat, says a new study conducted by Georgetown University Hospitaland George Washington University in the US.

Half the 59 overweight volunteers followed a strictly vegan diet as part of the experiment conducted by Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The remaining half were given food in line with a national programme designed to reduce illness and death from coronary heart disease in the US, which endorses the consumption of low-fat animal products.

Dr Barnard discovered that those on the vegan diet were able to lose weight without feeling hungry. All the women were of post-menopausal age.

Mr Barnard said: “The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry.

“As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan.”

The journal article also refers to a study of 55,000 women in Sweden which reinforces Dr Barnard’s findings.

Researchers at Tufts University in Sweden found that of the group, 40% of meat-eaters were overweight or obese compared to 25% to 29% of vegetarians and vegans.

Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases.

Meanwhile, a new study appearing in September’s Journal of Urology in the States shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

20 foods can help save you from cancer, says world leading cancer charity.

A list of the top 20 cancer beating foods – fruits and vegetables – has been compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

The WCRF, a charity committed to cancer prevention, is publishing its findings in a report, Food Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer, based on thousands of studies, being published in 2006. Eating more vegetables and fruit is the second most effective way to reduce the risk of cancer and the most effective way is not to smoke.

More than half the people questioned in a survey said they were unaware that diet could influence their risk of cancer

The 20 superfoods the WCRF identifies are vegetables, fruits, nuts, oily fish and whole grains – the familiar foods that it says “stand out in the nutritional crowd” because of their health-giving properties. They contain the highest levels of antioxidants, the vitamins and minerals that help protect the body from the damaging effects of oxygen-free radicals, the unstable molecules created by the body and produced by toxins that can be carcinogenic, such as tobacco.

Separately, the Royal Marsden Hospital in London is entering the fray with a book to be published next year called Cancer: The Power of Food.

This is the first time that the premier cancer-healing institution in Britain has offered advice to the public on cancer prevention, and the first time it has tried to cash in on the cookery book market.

Written by the hospital’s chief dietitian, Clare Shaw, the book contains recipes for dishes such as One-Pot Beef, with tips on the need to cook the beef slowly to “avoid the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines”.

Cheesy Lentil and Vegetable Pie is a “high-fibre supper dish that is a good source of caretonids, folate and calcium”.

There’s useful advice on weight-loss regimes. Coyly avoiding any mention of the Atkins diet, the book asks whether a “high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight-reducing diet” will affect cancer risk.

“Yes, it might,” it says. “All the evidence for diet being protective indicates that it should contain plenty of starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, with small portions of animal protein.”

There are other valuable nuggets. Although it is assumed that raw fruit and veg are better than cooked, as some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, this isn’t necessarily true. The body absorbs beta carotene (which is converted in the body into Vitamin A) better from cooked carrots than raw.

Both the WCRF and the Royal Marsden try, in different ways, to refine the research evidence into advice that people can act on. Certain facts are established – such as the dramatic decline in stomach cancer in the west in the past century, thought to be linked with the advent of the fridge.

Refrigeration meant a switch in the diet to consumption of more fresh food and less preserved – salted or smoked – meat, which is known to increase the risk.

Stomach cancer remains high in countries where salty foods occupy a prominent place in the diet, such as Japan.

Bowel cancer is commoner in countries of the west, where more refined, processed food is eaten, and rare in the developing world, where the diet is high in whole-grain cereals, pulses and root vegetables. A high-fat diet also appears to increase cancers of the bowel, breast, prostate and lung.

But there is one problem with their thesis that has arisen too late for either organisation to address. The single most consistent piece of advice from the cancer epidemiologists in the past decade has been to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Southern Europe, where more fruit and vegetables are consumed, has lower rates of cancer of the mouth, throat, lung and stomach than northern Europe.

But what should we eat today? Those who have to cook tonight cannot wait for tomorrow’s research.

The only sensible answer is that a diet based on the WCRF’s 20 superfoods and the Royal Marsden’s recipes is unlikely to do harm, and probably offers the current generation the best chance of outliving their parents.



This is main energy food needed by the body and it is found in sugars (honey, sweets, fruits) and starches (pasta, potatoes, flour, corn). But carbohyrate comes in two types – fast and slow release. Fast includes sweets, sugars, and honey which give a burst of energy via the blood sugars and slow release which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains provide sustained energy – this is because they contain complex carbohydrates. Most people should aim to eat mostly slow-release as this stabalises blood sugar levels and helps maintain a health weight and assists in the prevention of diabetes.