Far from Nigellissima or pukka

Last updated 09:00 19/12/2012
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A new study has found the recipes included in best-selling cookery books by celebrity TV chefs like Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are less healthy than "ready meals" sold at major supermarkets.

The study, published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, compared 100 main meal recipes from five best-selling cookery books by well-known TV chefs with 100 ready meals sold in Britain's three leading supermarkets.

"Recipes were less healthy than ready meals, containing significantly more energy, protein, fat, and saturated fat, and less fibre per portion than the ready meals," the authors said.

The researchers also found that none of the 100 recipes or 100 ready meals assessed "fully complied with the World Health Organisation recommendations for the avoidance of diet-related diseases.

Both types of meals tended to be high in protein, fat, saturated fat, and salt, low in carbohydrate, and within the recommended range for sugar," a British Medical Journal statement said.

The celebrity chef recipes assessed were in the cookery books 30 Minute Meals and Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver (who has campaigned at length for healthier meals), Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.

Researchers chose the books from a chart of bestsellers shortly before Christmas 2010. Forty-seven of the recipes were from Oliver's books, 25 from Lawson's, 21 from Fearnley-Whittingstall's and seven from Lorraine Pascale's.

The researchers said that "collaboration with television chefs" might raise the nutritional quality of their recipes, and help consumers achieve a balanced diet.

''This study shows that neither recipes created by popular television chefs nor ready meals produced by three leading UK supermarket chains meet national or international nutritional standards for a balanced diet,'' the researchers said.

The report said it was "possible" that "television chefs influence many peoples' diets, although the type and degree of this influence is unclear".

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- Fairfax Media

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