Every month our nutritionist, Dr John Briffa casts his beady and often disapproving eye over the food shopping of various people. He has taken Howard Marks to task for his hash-induced impaired mental function, ticked off Harry Hill for eating oven chips and Jackie Collins for her Yorkshire pudding habit. So we turn the tables by putting John's diet under the microscope and asking him what's in his basket.
'I usually get up between 6.00 and 6.30, and am not ready for solids at this time. But I do need something. I usually start the day with a juice I make from organic carrots, apples, beetroot and ginger. I will also drink a mug of organic coffee and some mineral water. This will see me through to about 11 when I will snack on some nuts with fresh or dried fruit. If I'm working from home, lunch will usually be chargrilled meat (often organic lamb) on a bed of salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If I'm out and about, I'll get a salad, often from Prêt a Manger. This won't be enough to get me through to supper, though, so I'll generally eat more fruit and nuts in the late afternoon. I love eating out, and my preference is generally to eat meat or fish with veg. If I'm cooking at home, I'll usually do fish with buttered vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. A bit of dark chocolate usually goes down a treat after this.'
1 Organic carrots, apples, beetroot and ginger (for juice)
For me, this blend of fruit and veg offers a tasty way of getting a wide range of nutrients into my body with relative ease.
2 Organic herb salad bag
I find salad bags offer a very quick and convenient basis for lunch at home. Nutrients offered by these leafy greens include magnesium, potassium and folic acid - all things that have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.
3 Cabbage and broccoli
Cabbage and broccoli are what are known as 'brassica' or 'cruciferous' vegetables. This class of vegetables is particularly rich in plant chemicals (known as 'phytochemicals') such as indole-3-carbinol and sulphorafane that are believed to have cancer-protective properties.
4 Organic dark chocolate (Green & Blacks)
Cocoa is rich in heart-healthy nutrients including magnesium and phytochemicals (polyphenols). Dark varieties are healthier than milk chocolate, because of their higher cocoa and lower sugar content.
5 Organic coffee
Coffee drinking was encouraged from an early age in my family, though I'm glad to say I have weaned myself down from the 10-cup-a-day Nescafe habit I had as a stu dent to a solitary mug of organic coffee in the morning. I do love the taste, and I'm also comforted by the fact that coffee drinking is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes (a condition we have on both sides of our family).
6 Mineral water
Water drinking has many benefits for long-term health. I drink mineral water, as long-term consumption of tap water has been linked to a range of health issues including cancers of the bladder and rectum. Mineral water is generally free of the chemicals (such as chlorine and trihalomethanes) that are the chief suspects regarding the health hazards associated with drinking tap water.
7 Organic lamb
Compared to your average chicken or pig, sheep are generally less intensively reared. Organic lamb is, obviously, an even better choice. It's pricey though. However, once bashed with a mallet, I do find even a small piece of meat goes quite a long way.
8 Fish (mackerel, sardine, organic farmed salmon)
Fish is generally a healthy food, but I am concerned at declining stocks and the hazards of farmed fish. I eat organic farmed salmon or wild oily varieties - the numbers of which seem to be holding up - such as mackerel and sardine.
9 Organic nuts and dried fruit
Nuts are highly nutritious, the consumption of which has been particularly linked with protection from heart disease. Dried fruit is also nutritious, and although sugary, tends to release energy slowly into the bloodstream. I reckon these foods represent a good choice for a tasty and healthy snack.
Apart from olive oil, this is the other stock fat in my diet. I prefer it to margarine for flavour and because it is a relatively unprocessed food, consisting mainly of a saturated fat we've probably had in our diet forever, while margarine is a highly processed food, the supposed health benefits of which are dubious at best.