Microwave meals healthier than Jamie and Nigella's recipes
A new study says TV chefs' recipes are worse for you than ready-made supermarket meals
IT'S ENOUGH to make foodies choke on their truffle oil. When it comes to saturated fat, fibre and calories, many of the home-cooked meals promoted by TV chefs like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, are less healthy than supermarket meals cooked in the microwave.
The study of the nutritional qualities of 100 recipes taken from some of the UK's bestselling cookbooks found they were "less healthy" than a random selection of 100 brand-name ready meals from Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco, reports The Guardian.
Neither the TV chef's recipes nor the ready meals met "national or international guidelines for a balanced diet", but the University of Newcastle study found the homemade meals were less healthy according to "several metrics".
The cook books in question will be familiar to anyone who knows their mozzarella from mortadella and include Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, Lawson's Kitchen and Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Everyday.
Per portion, the recipes chosen from these books contained "significantly more energy, protein, fat and saturated fat" and "significantly less fibre" than the ready meals. They would be more likely to attract red "traffic light" warning symbols under Food Standards Agency criteria, says the study that is published in the British Medical Journal.
For example, Oliver's meatball sandwich, pickled cabbage and chopped salad is just under 1,000 calories per serving. Lawson's beer-braised pork knuckles with caraway, garlic, apples and potatoes has 1,340 calories per person and 102g of saturated fat.
By comparison, the most belt-busting supermarket meal was Tesco's chicken tikka masala and pilau rice which clocked up 870 calories per serving.
A spokesman for Oliver – a stickler for healthy food when it comes to school meals - said the chef welcomed any research "which raises debate on these issues" and pointed out that his most recent book, 15 Minute Meals, contains calorie content and nutritional information per serving for every dish.