Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Spicing up Swedish food /2 – Köttbullar dopiaza

May 17, 2017

Start with half a kg of your favourite frozen, Swedish meat balls (köttbullar) to feed 2 people.

Though meat balls are now quintessentially Swedish, their origin lies in meat koftas from Turkey going back to around 1750 after King Charles XII’s adventures in the Ottoman Empire. Indian koftas also derive from the Middle East but have accumulated spices and changes of ingredients along the way. Today lamb or mutton or chicken mince is used to make koftas in India but not beef or pork. Spices are used generously and even all vegetarian koftas are used. Frozen meatballs in Sweden usually consist of minced beef or pork or a beef/pork mix  or chicken. They also contain, in various quantities, onions, milk, egg, breadcrumbs, and flour. They are usually seasoned with just salt and pepper and sometimes a little cinnamon.

In an Indian kofta curry, the koftas themselves would be spiced as would the curry. Do-piaza means two onions and any dopiaza dish uses a large quantity of onions added in two separate steps (hence two onions). In this dish the relatively bland köttbullar are marinaded in spices prior to cooking the dopiaza.

Ingredients: 500 g frozen köttbullar, 5 medium onions. 100 g crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons chillie powder, (one teaspoon chillie powder can be replaced by 2 green chillies if available), 3 cloves garlic,  2 cm ginger, 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, seeds from 3 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 100 ml plain yoghurt, fresh parsley or dill if coriander is not available.

Mix a marinade of the yoghurt with the coriander powder, cumin powder, cardamom seeds and 1 teaspoon chillie powder. Add in the defrosted köttbullar and make sure that they are all well coated in the marinade. Leave in a fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight is fine).

Chop two onions coarsely and 3 onions very finely. Ginger and garlic should be peeled and crushed (a ginger garlic paste being ideal).

Use a heavy skillet pan with a closely fitting lid.

Heat some oil in the skillet and saute the coarsely chopped onions till they are just softened and translucent. Put aside into a bowl.
Heat some more oil and at high heat fry the cumin seeds and black peppercorns till they spit. Reduce to medium heat and add the rest of the chillie powder and allow to fry for 10-15 seconds. Add the finely sliced onions the ginger, the garlic and the green chillies (if any). Saute together on medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes.

Add the köttbullar together with all the marinade. Add the crushed tomatoes. Braise for 5 -8 minutes on medium heat. Now add the turmeric and stir well. Reduce to very low heat, cover the skillet and cook/simmer for 15 minutes. 

Add the coarsely chopped onions and garam masala. Stir gently and cover again. Leave on low hear for a further 10 minutes.

Garnish with fresh coriander (or dill or parsley).


Serve hot with a long-grain rice.



 

Spicing up Swedish food /1 – Pyttipanna a la Madras

May 16, 2017

I quite like traditional Swedish food (which is pretty bland but not quite as tasteless as some people imagine). That includes such dishes as isterband, kåldolmar, stekt lever med lök, Janssons frestele, köttbullar. köttgryta, ärtsoppa, pannbiff, pyttipanna, gravad lax, fattiga riddare and gubbröra. 

However, to suit my palate, I tend to tweak most traditional recipes when I am in control of the kitchen. Quite simple modifications can elevate traditional Swedish, everyday dishes (husmanskost) from the merely mundane to the seriously delicious.

Here is number 1.

Pyttipanna a la Madras

The recipe is based on a half-kg bag of frozen pyttipanna (feeds two). A wok (or large frying pan) is most suitable for preparation.

(Of the various frozen brands available, I find the finely diced  – finhackad – versions to be the most suitable for absorbing additional flavours).

Ingredients : half-kg bag of frozen pyttipanna; o.5 tsp cummin seeds; 1 -2 tsp chillie powder (or 4 – 8 large, crushed, dried red chillies); 2 cloves garlic (crushed); half can of crushed tomatoes; 1tsp garam masala;  0.5 tsp black peppercorns, chopped parsley, 2 rashers of bacon, crushed potato chips.

Heat 2 tblsp of cooking oil (olive oil. does not get get hot enough). When hot enough (2 mins) add the peppercorns and cummin till the seeds spit and pop, add and stir fry the red chillies not more than a minute), add the crushed tomatoes. Stir 2 minutes. Add the frozen pytt (which can be pre-cooked in the microwave to save time). Stir fry till done (6 -8 minutes from frozen or 3 minutes with pre-cooked pytt). Sprinkle with crushed potato chips and garam masala.

Top with a fried egg and two crispy bacon rashers for each serving with sliced beetroot or preferably, cucumber, on the side. Garnish with the parsley. Salt to taste.

Options: Frozen prawns can be added together with the frozen pytt. Half a ttsp of mustard seeds can be added and fried with the cummin for extra flavour and texture.


 

Divine cooking pairs

March 12, 2017

There are some spices/herbs which seem to go particularly well together. I am sure there is some very intricate chemistry together with our taste discernment which makes this so. In any case some pairings seem to be divinely matched and produce “heavenly combinations”.

These are my favourite ten – not in any particular order – and no doubt there are many more:

1: Onions and red chillies

2: Ginger and garlic

3: Coriander and green chillies

4: Asafoetida (hing) and crushed tomatoes

5: Cumin (jeera) and black pepper

6: Cardamom and cinnamon

7. Coconut and coriander

8. Turmeric and poppy seeds (khus-khus)

9: Cinnamon and cloves

10: Saffron on rice


 

Chillies are to food as the zero is to mathematics

March 10, 2017

Every so often  a new article pops up about the inherent goodness of the capsaicin in chillies. For me this is just stating the obvious, like stating the earth is round and not flat or that man-made carbon dioxide is irrelevant for global warming. To like chillies is to like sunlight and brightness.

(Getty Images)

There are few dishes or sauces which cannot be improved by the judicious addition of fresh green chillies, fresh red chillies, dried red chillies  or even – for the hard-pressed urbanite – chillie powder. From a pinch of chopped green chillies in salads or chillie flakes on pizzas (which ought to be mandatory) or a few drops of “hot oil” on all pasta dishes or chillie infused olive oil for dressings and sauces, virtually every cuisine can be improved. No barbecue ought to be allowed without a hot sauce (though the overuse of vinegar with red chillies should be outlawed). Brazilian churascarias usually do have sharp, fresh ginger and often have wasabi but could well do with having more chillies available. Traditional European cuisine (especially Eastern Europe) was long ignorant of the virtues of chillies. It was like the mathematics Europe had without a symbol for zero. They are learning now. English “cuisine” has changed immeasurably – for the better – only since the proliferation of curry houses. French cuisine is only just beginning to learn how to use chillies. It seems ridiculous to have a Michelin starred chef who does not know how to use chillies.

BBC: Why hot chillies might be good for us

As anyone who has ever eaten a really hot chilli will testify, they can cause a lot of pain.

Chillies come in many shapes, colours, sizes and strengths, but one thing they have in common is the burning sensation they cause in your mouth, eyes and any other part of your body into which their juices come into contact.

Although most people think that the hottest part of a chilli is its seeds, in fact it is the white spongy layer you find inside, called the placenta. Bite into this and you will really feel the burn. That burning sensation is mainly caused by a chemical called capsaicin, which is found in tiny glands in the chilli’s placenta. When you eat a chilli, the capsaicin is released into your saliva and then binds on to TRPV1 receptors in your mouth and tongue. The receptors are actually there to detect the sensation of scalding heat. Capsaicin makes your mouth feel as if it is on fire because the capsaicin molecule happens to fit the receptors perfectly. When this happens it triggers these receptors, which send a signal to your brain, fooling it into thinking that your mouth is literally burning.

The reason why wild chilli plants first started to produce capsaicin was to try and protect themselves from being eaten by mammals like you. From an evolutionary perspective the plant would much rather have its seeds dispersed far and wide by birds. Oddly enough birds, unlike mammals, don’t have TRPV1 receptors, so they do not experience any burn.

So producing capsaicin turned out to be the ideal way to deter mammals from eating the plant while encouraging birds to do so. But then along came an ape with a giant frontal cortex who somehow learnt to love the burn.

Humans are not only not deterred by capsaicin, most of us positively love it. So what’s going on? The ferocity of a chilli pepper is measured in something called Scoville heat units (SHU). A relatively mild chilli, like the Dutch Long chilli, is only 500, but by the time you move on to the Naga chilli, which is one of the hottest in the world, you are biting into something with a Scoville score of more than 1.3m units. The current world record holder for hotness, however, is the Carolina Reaper, first bred in Rock Hill, South Carolina. According to tests carried out by the University of Winthrop in South Carolina it scores an impressive 1.57m SHUs

So, what happens when you bite into a really hot chill? …….. Within minutes of eating my first chilli, my eyes began to water and my pulse shot up. My body had responded to an initial burst of severe pain by releasing adrenaline. This not only made my heart beat faster, but it also made my pupils dilate. Every round the chillies got hotter and both of us soon dropped out. Had we been able to tolerate biting into some really hot chillies, it’s possible we would have experienced a “chilli endorphin high”. Endorphins are natural opiates, painkillers which are sometimes released in response to the chilli’s sting. Like opiates they are said to induce a pervasive sense of happiness. It is a form of thrill-seeking – feeding our brains’ desire for stimulation. ……

…… In a recent study done by researchers from the University of Vermont they looked at data from more than 16,000 Americans who had filled in food questionnaires over an average of 18.9 years. During that time nearly 5,000 of them had died. What they found was that was that those who ate a lot of red hot chillies were 13% less likely to die during that period than those who did not. This supports the finding of another recent study, carried out in China, that came to similar conclusions.

So why might eating chillies be good for you?

The researchers speculate that it could be that capsaicin is helping increase blood flow, or even altering the mix of your gut bacteria in a helpful direction.


 

Bacon AND lettuce are called for and it is BLET for me

December 17, 2015

The papers have recently been full of a study from Carnegie Mellon University which purports to show that for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore for the good of the environment, bacon is three times better than lettuce.

Yahoo News:

Greenhouse gas emissions from lettuce production are three times higher per calorie than from bacon, study finds .

Eating lettuce could be three times worse for the environment than bacon, scientists have claimed. Despite calls from celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sir Paul McCartney for people to eat less meat to help save the planet, new research suggests that ‘healthier’ diets with more fruit and vegetables could actually be worse for global warming .

The study, by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, compared the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of 1,000 calories of different foods. “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” Professor Paul Fischbeck, one of the report’s authors, concluded.

But for all my liking of bacon, I am not giving up on my lettuce. First I don’t believe that man-made “greenhouse” gas emissions have any significant impact on climate. Second, even if they did, the Paris conference has saved the world. Third the combination of bacon with lettuce is one of the greater discoveries of humanity.

But most importantly, my favourite sandwich is not a BLT but a BLET (Bacon, lettuce, egg and tomato). In a crisp and crusty baguette, the egg is better either scrambled or hard-boiled and sliced, but if space allows a fried egg is ideal. The de-luxe edition could also have melted cheese (which is then a BLETCH). Of course, the bacon is the centrepiece and should be just crisp but should not “crumble”. Back-bacon rather than crispy bacon would be my choice.

A BLET – image Pinterest

Swedish study says antioxidants also protect cancer cells

October 13, 2015

A new paper from Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg shows that

Antioxidants can increase melanoma metastasis in mice, K Le Gal et al, Science Translational Medicine, 07 Oct 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 308, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad3740

First antioxidants were good for you, then they were of doubtful benefit and now it seems they are positively bad. Many foods containing antioxidants have been touted for their health benefits and have included chocolate, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, maize, legumes and eggs. Red wine was on the list but the benefits of Resveratrol have already come under a cloud for alleged data tampering.

Of course, perceived antioxidant benefits have not much influenced my own consumption of dark chocolate and red wine. But what the study finds is that  “the overall conclusion from the various studies is that antioxidants protect healthy cells from free radicals that can turn them into malignancies but may also protect a tumor once it has developed”.

So antioxidants can help prevent a cancer developing, but once the cancer is there antioxidants can speed up the progression of the cancer. Dark chocolate and red wine therefore remain on the  “good foods list” for those who do not have any cancerous cells.

Sahlgrenska Press Release:

Fresh research at Sahlgrenska Academy has found that antioxidants can double the rate of melanoma metastasis in mice. The results reinforce previous findings that antioxidants hasten the progression of lung cancer. According to Professor Martin Bergö, people with cancer or an elevated risk of developing the disease should avoid nutritional supplements that contain antioxidants.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, demonstrated in January 2014 that antioxidants hastened and aggravated the progression of lung cancer. Mice that were given antioxidants developed additional and more aggressive tumors. Experiments on human lung cancer cells confirmed the results.
Given well-established evidence that free radicals can cause cancer, the research community had simply assumed that antioxidants, which destroy them, provide protection against the disease. Found in many nutritional supplements, antioxidants are widely marketed as a means of preventing cancer. Because the lung cancer studies called the collective wisdom into question, they attracted a great deal of attention.

The follow-up studies at Sahlgrenska Academy have now found that antioxidants double the rate of metastasis in malignant melanoma, the most perilous type of skin cancer. Science Translational Medicine published the findings on October 7.
“As opposed to the lung cancer studies, the primary melanoma tumor was not affected,” Professor Bergö says. “But the antioxidant boosted the ability of the tumor cells to metastasize, an even more serious problem because metastasis is the cause of death in the case of melanoma. The primary tumor is not dangerous per se and is usually removed.”

Experiments on cell cultures from patients with malignant melanoma confirmed the new results. “We have demonstrated that antioxidants promote the progression of cancer in at least two different ways,” Professor Bergö says.
The overall conclusion from the various studies is that antioxidants protect healthy cells from free radicals that can turn them into malignancies but may also protect a tumor once it has developed. 

Taking nutritional supplements containing antioxidants may unintentionally hasten the progression of a small tumor or premalignant lesion, neither of which is possible to detect.
“Previous research at Sahlgrenska Academy has indicated that cancer patients are particularly prone to take supplements containing antioxidants,” Dr. Bergö says. “Our current research combined with information from large clinical trials with antioxidants suggests that people who have been recently diagnosed with cancer should avoid such supplements.”

 

Spice addiction prolongs your life

August 7, 2015

red chilliesEven growing up in a family which liked its food very spicy I was regarded as being extreme in my like of fiery dishes. The story is – and I have only some very vague reflections of this – that I sucked my thumb as a child for a very long time. After my parents gave up on their attempts to stop this depraved habit my grandmother took charge. She wrapped my thumb every morning in a gauze bandage steeped in powdered red chillies. This continued all through one winter she spent with us when I was about two. She was “accused” by mother of “child cruelty” but she was determined to bring the depraved child back into line. Apparently I did not cry or complain – unnatural child that I was. Only my right thumb was wrapped in the chillie-bandage but it did not get me to stop or even to shift to my left thumb. In any event this “torture” went on for about 3 months but did not cure me of sucking my thumb (and that continued, I am told, till I was almost four). Thumb-sucking came to its natural end in due course but by then red chillies had been established as my “natural comforter”. I no longer suck my thumb, even at times of great stress – but I do find a blisteringly fiery meal strangely comforting.

But perhaps my grandmother has helped prolong my life. A new study in the BMJ reports on an observational study which makes no claims about cause and effect but merely reports a correlation between the eating of spicy food and a decrease in mortality.

Jun Lv et al. Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2015 DOI:10.1136/bmj.h3942

Press ReleasePrevious research has suggested that beneficial effects of spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, include anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer properties. So an international team led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences examined the association between consumption of spicy foods as part of a daily diet and the total risk and causes of death. They undertook a prospective study of 487,375 participants, aged 30-79 years, from the China Kadoorie Biobank. Participants were enrolled between 2004-2008 and followed up for morbidities and mortality. …… 

During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths. Compared with participants who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 1 or 2 days a week were at a 10% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death was 0.90). And those who ate spicy foods 3 to 5 and 6 or 7 days a week were at a 14% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death 0.86, and 0.86 respectively).*In other words, participants who ate spicy foods almost every day had a relative 14% lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week.

The association was similar in both men and women, and was stronger in those who did not consume alcohol. Frequent consumption of spicy foods was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, and ischaemic heart and respiratory system diseases, and this was more evident in women than men.

Fresh and dried chilli peppers were the most commonly used spices in those who reported eating spicy foods weekly, and further analysis showed those who consumed fresh chilli tended to have a lower risk of death from cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes.

spice tinThere is no chocolate dessert which is not better for the addition of a sprinkle or two of red chillie powder. It is not just chillies of course. A little cumin in the cheese can do wonders. A touch of cinnamon in the Irish coffee is decadently good. A little asafoetida in the traditional Swedish pea-soup can bring it to life. Bangers and mash with hot mustard on the bangers and onions and red chillies in the mash is a student’s delight. Coriander added to the mint with any lamb dish is the way to go. A touch of saffron on any fish or crustacean dish can hardly go wrong. I even find that there is no over-rated, Michelin-starred, French dish which cannot be improved by the addition of a little of the right spice.

“Organic farming a catastrophe for food security” – Swedish researchers

November 16, 2014

Most of Sweden is brainwashed into thinking that anything claiming to be “environmentally friendly” or “climate smart” must be a good thing. No politician or newspaper has the courage to challenge environmental political correctness. Normally they are quite rational but when it comes to questioning global warming or GM ideology, they leave all their critical faculties behind and just parrot the dogma. The reluctance to challenge and question borders on political cowardice. “Organic” and “ecological” and “environmentally friendly” and “climate smart” are meaningless labels which have now come to be used to justify lack of critical thinking and to silence opposition.

It does not require much deep thought to see that organic and ecologic farming which produces much lower yields is – inevitably – much more expensive than the conventional – and much more intensive – farming that has been developed over the last century. Global food production is still increasing and there is no global shortage of food today, even though the population exceeds 7 billion. Grain production in 2014 broke all manner of previous records – by using modern, intensive methods. Of course there are still serious inequality and food distribution problems around the world and there is still much undernourishment and hunger. There is actually enough food today to feed the world but it is not all affordable or cannot all be distributed. But the simple fact is that more people are being fed today than ever before in human history. Malthus has been proven spectacularly wrong precisely because of the advances in intensive farming. Global population will reach a peak in about 80 years. Thereafter population will decline but we need to be increasing both the quantity and the quality and, above all, the affordability of food for some time yet.

In Sweden there is a blind romanticism prevailing about anything claimed to be “ecologic” or “organic” or “environmentally friendly”. It shows up everywhere. It is an axiom of all advertising copy that labels such as “green” or “climate smart” or environmentally friendly” are necessary – no matter how convoluted the argument – to get through to the unquestioning and uncritical Swedish consumer. On matters labelled environmental, Sweden is almost totalitarian in its politics. The courage to challenge outmoded and obsolete – but politically correct – dogma is an attribute that is particularly lacking in Swedish politics (and in the media). Consensus has become the new god and seems always to trump facts. Paying lip service to democratic forms has become much more important than questioning the substance. Continuing down the wrong path is more socially acceptable than questioning the path.

So there is much controversy about an article in Svenska Dagbladet today by four reputed agricultural scientists who point out the blindingly obvious – that shifting to ecologic farming would be a catastrophe for food security. The article is by

  • Holger Kirchmann, Professor of plant nutrition and soil conservation, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),
  • Lars Bergström, Professor of Water Quality at SLU,
  • Thomas Kätterer, Professor of Systems Ecology at SLU,
  • Rune Andersson, former program manager at SLU.

Organic farming – the road to starvation.

The belief that organic farming is good for the climate and produces better food is wrong. Only organic farming would be a disaster for future food security and would put further pressure on the environment at a very high cost, writes four researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), 
Many today believe that organic farming is good for the environment and that it also provides safe and healthy food. Sales increased by 30 percent during the first half of 2014 (DN 4/11) and the state supports organic farming with many millions. But virtually all popular beliefs about organic farming are incorrect. We discuss this in our book “The ecological dream.” Our conclusions in the book – based on serious research, our own and from others – are unambiguous:

  • Consumers get no better food or any better environment if they buy organic food.
  • The extensive subsidies for organic farming – about 500 million kronor a year – would have greater social benefit if used in improving the environmental effects of mainstream agriculture. 
  • Organic foods are not free of toxins.
  • Organic food is not more nutritious than conventionally grown food. 
  • Increased organic farming would severely affect food security, both in Sweden and worldwide.
  • Organic farming does not give a lower input of nutrients to surface and groundwater.
  • Organic farming is not better for the climate.

The most drastic effect is that we will only produce half as much food on the arable land we have today. Official statistics show that agricultural yields decrease between 30 and 60 percent depending on the crops we grow – at least for grass and most of the potatoes.

To compensate for the loss of food, we must cultivate a much larger area of arable land than today. If you calculate that yields are on average 40 percent lower in organic farming, it means that at 100 percent organic growing needs acreage to be increased by a further 1.7 million hectares, from the current 2.6 million acres. That much arable land has never before existed in Sweden. ………. 

My translation of the article from the Swedish is here (pdf): Organic farming – the road to starvation SvD

“Pass the Mustard, please”

August 6, 2014

“Pass the Mustard, please”.Colman's bulls-head logo

I like most real mustards which are not sweet, but the only ones which come close to my favourite, Colman’s, is a hot Chinese mustard and a Japanese wasabi-mustard. I don’t consider Heinz mustard  or all the others used at McDonalds or hot dog stands to be real mustards. I cannot imagine having my full English breakfast (which happens quite rarely these days) without my Colman’s. Adding some Colman’s mustard powder can also do wonders for a salad dressing and of course it is essential to bring some life to cheese-on-toast or to a cheese sauce.  I find that a judicious amount of Colman’s can even add a little oblique bite to an already spicy onion chutney or Indian curry.

It is now two hundred years since a flour miller Jeremiah Colman started selling his mustard powder for people to mix into a paste. Colman’s is now a Unilever brand.

In 1814, Jeremiah Colman first advertised his mustard in the Norwich Chronicle. He made his mustard at a water mill just south of Norwich, and in keeping with the day, the business was family-run. Still produced in Norwich today, the town in steeped in Colman’s history and, in particular, the family’s pioneering achievements in social welfare: in 1857 a school was opened for the employees’ children, while in 1864 the company employed a nurse to help sick members of staff – a social revolution at the time.

The familiar bull’s head logo has been part of much of the brand’s long-standing history, first appearing on the company’s English Mustard in 1855. 

In celebration an archive of advertisements and photographs has been assembled. A gallery is here at the Daily Mail.

Advert celebrating Colman’s use on the 1901-04 Antartic expedition. It gained even more popularity when in 1911 the factory donated a ton-and-a-half of Colman’s Mustard and nine tons of flour to Captain Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole.
Capt Scott wrote a letter at the time thanking the company for the mustard they had donated.

Captain Scott's letter to Colman (Unilever)

Captain Scott’s letter to Colman (Unilever)

1905 - Colman's (Unilever)

1905 – Colman’s (Unilever)

Rules of The Mustard Club

Rules of The Mustard Club

 

Fat pigs are happy pigs

June 7, 2014

Caesar: Let me have men about me that are fat ..

A truth known already in Shakespeare’s day and a new paper seems to confirm the adage – even if only for pigs.

Annika Maria Juul Haagensen et al, High Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet Limit Fear and Aggression in Göttingen Minipigs, PLOS OneDOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093821

Nordic Science:Most of us associate the words ‘fat’ and ‘cholesterol’ with overweight, cardiovascular disease and unhealthy lifestyles but we could all be wrong, according to researchers who argue that not even the infamous saturated fats are as bad as we think they are. 

A new Danish study reveals that a diet high in fat and cholesterol makes pigs more social, less aggressive and less fearful. According to the researchers behind the study, such behaviour is associated with good health. …….. 

Even though the study was done on pigs the results would most likely be applicable to humans as well, says Annika Maria Juul Haagensen, PhD in Veterinary Disease Biology at the University of Copenhagen, who authored the study.

“It’s definitely something we should consider,” she says. “The next step is to determine how much fat is optimal for our physical and psychological health.”

Associate professor Lotte Lauritzen from the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen says that’s a reasonable assumption.

“Previous studies on monkeys and rodents support these findings,” she says. “We know that our brain cells need fat to make new connections and function optimally.”

For instance, she says, too little omega 3 fat affects the serotonin system which regulates our mood. …….. 

“There are several possible explanations to the changes in behaviour we observed in the pigs that were fed more fat,” she says.

One could be that the fat and cholesterol cause an increased release of serotonin. The higher levels of serotonin could’ve changed how aggressive, depressive and anxious the pigs were.

“At the same time a study shows that cholesterol increases the permeability between brain cells and blood. This means that more nutrients are transferred from the blood to the cells,” says Haagensen.

Fat and sugar and cholestorol are not all bad and don’t quite deserve the demonisation they have been subject to.


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