THE NUTRITIONIST ALESSANDRO BRASCHI ON THE GOOD AND BAD OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Okinawa and 5-2, Dukan and Boot camp, Macrobiotic and Paleolitic, Frutarian and Fletcherizing (this one requires you to chew each mouthful 32 times before swallowing). There are as many diets as people willing to lose-weight-live-longer. But, at the end of the day, there is only one diet that you can be sure is good for your health.
‘You could get a degree in nutrition with only one sentence’, says Alessandro Braschi, PhD in Nutrition and former researcher at King’s College. ‘Eat a little bit of everything. This is the simple magic of the perfect diet. And this is what a Mediterranean diet is about. It’s a varied and balanced diet, with carbs, proteins, vitamins and fat, all mixed and in reasonable quantities’.
Celebrities appear to have started a no-carb crusade nowadays. Carbs are evil, according to some of them.
‘It’s only a fad, but with no medical evidence. If we cut out carbs we eliminate 90% of what human beings have fed themselves on for millions of years. Carbs are one of the four macronutrients any diet is made of; the others are alcohol, proteins and fats. Let’s exclude alcohol, which no nutritionist would advise to consume in large quantities, if we eliminate carbs I doubt a diet of only proteins and fats could be a healthy one. Moreover, carbs are found in fruit and in pulsed in the form of sugar. Do we really want to eliminate all these?’
The Mediterranean diet seems to be popular even in countries far from the Med, like the UK.
I remember in the 90s you could buy a type of pasta, which cooked in two-and-a-half minutes. For an Italian, something unheard of and rather appalling. Jamie Oliver started to bring Italian food here and all of a sudden durum wheat pasta, fresh parmigiano and many other ingredients, like mortadella and bresaola, appeared on the shelves. Much of the charm linked to food is still French and many words come from French. Pig, once cooked, becomes pork (from the French porc) and cow is beef (from boef), but the habit of eating pasta and using olive oil instead of butter is definitely Mediterranean. Pasta is a staple food for southern countries, like potatoes are for northern countries and rice for the Far East.
And what would the UK staple food be?
It used to be potatoes, but thanks to huge immigration from many different part of the world it could now be bread, the one used to make sandwiches, which is the most common lunch for many English people.
Is it true that it’s wrong to eat pasta after 8pm?
It’s not pasta we have to blame, but any food. It’s true that after a long day our body needs to rest and if we consume great quantities of anything we stress our digestive system. But that can happen with meat, fish, and any food really. There is no harm in eating a little quantity of pasta for dinner. And it’s absolutely false that pasta makes you fat. Pasta is basically starch and starch does not transform itself into fat. It’s the condiment we add to pasta that can be fattening, not the pasta itself’.
Eat Mediterranean at the touch of a finger
It’s called Artichalk and it’s an app that helps you plan your meals to make sure you eat a balanced diet. You can set your preferences adding your eating habits, follow the suggestions of a team of nutritionists and control your daily intake. It’s like having a nutritionist at your fingertips. The app, developed by Glob Now, has been chosen by Milan’s Bocconi University for its innovative content.