Eat your way to a healthy winter

May 31, 2012

Hallowe’en this year was nothing to write home about weather-wise. It firmly set the tone for murky evenings and comfort food, but this doesn’t mean pure stodge! To help you out, IAHS member stores stock a wide range of nutritious, cheap – and so satisfying – pulses and beans, dried, tinned and often organic.

Think of Indian dal. As Madhur Jaffrey writes in her Curry Bible, dal is enjoyed “with equal relish by toothless toddlers, husky farmers and effete urban snobs.” Traditional mung dal lentils can be elusive, but yellow split peas or red lentils will work well, cooked till creamy with added cumin, ginger, chillis, garlic and lots of turmeric. So simple to make, warming, high in protein and fibre, full of flavour from the spices – the best of comfort food, perfect served with a crunchy winter salad.

Looking at heart health, dal’s spice content is interesting, especially the turmeric , high in anti-oxidants and known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, stomach-soothing and heart-protecting effects.

We so often hear a customer say “I’m on blood pressure medication, can you help?” The IAHS Customer Care Protocol ensures that customers who are on medication and ask for advice are referred back to their pharmacists or doctors before taking any supplements. However we can always suggest changes in diet and lifestyle and increasingly health professionals are now endorsing omega-3, garlic and magnesium supplementation – though they may not know about dal!

Another frequent question we are getting these days is about safeguarding health and avoiding antibiotics. Knowledge about natural means to stay well is growing apace, and the favourite herb without a doubt is Echinacea. Luckily this remains available, mainly due to Bioforce who have applied to the Irish Medicines Board to have it registered as a medicinal herb, but the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive is already resulting in reduced choice.

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom the minds of Brussels bureaucrats and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). From its bastion in Italy the EFSA has decreed that, due to lack of scientific evidence, we can no longer claim that prunes support bowel health! Luckily Marian Harkin MEP is battling for us against such idiocy.

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