Do we eat to live, or live to eat?

        When we are born, we have an innate reflex to eat. At first, being mammals, our primary food is our mother’s milk. But as time passes we develop and grow, and as our physical needs for nutritional support increase, we desire to eat different kinds of foods – this is a natural process that is inbuilt into our genetics.

        But sometimes, there are some foods that we just cannot grow to like. Why?

Why do we like or dislike certain foods?

        All foods have important organoleptic, or sensory, characteristics – they are everything we can sense: smell, taste, colour, shape, texture, etc. These characteristics help us to choose which foods we want and, with time, we can decide whether to like or dislike eating something.

        Usually our first impression of the food is the most important, if not crucial. If the food satisfies all of our senses at that moment, we cannot but help liking it. On the other hand, should one of those organoleptic characteristics not appeal to us, we may reject the food.

        Food producers well know that these characteristics are important to consumers. Therefore, with the help of additives and chemical compounds, they seek to trick the senses by increasing the smell and taste intensity, or by changing the colour of the product to make it more appealing. As a result, we can sometimes grow to like – or potentially become addicted to – certain foods.

        But what’s the catch?

The catch

        These Organoleptic characteristics which are so attractive are only important to use before we actually ingest the food. To be sure, we enjoy the smell of the food and the taste while we chew it and this brings us a degree of satisfaction. However, when this food is swallowed, these characteristics are no longer important.

        Rather, the thing that is most important is the nutritional value: its chemical composition. As we highlighted at the outset, we need to satisfy our nutritional requirements in order to sustain the healthy operation of the organism, namely our bodies.

        Regrettably, many people today place too much importance on the food being pleasurable to the senses, rather than being beneficial to the body. One such example is that of carbonated soft drinks. We enjoy the sweet smell and refreshing taste, and are sometimes fascinated by the array of colours. But by taking these into our body, we pump our bodies full of CO2 which it must then expel as soon as possible, as well as receiving excess carbohydrates which can seriously affect our health over time.

Conclusion

        Surely many of us would agree that we love eating – we could even say that we live to eat. But we must concede that we eat to live – it is a vital feature of our ability to survive. Therefore, whilst we always seek to enjoy our food, we must also consider how what benefit or harm it will cause to us. We must bear in the mind that the more processed the product is and the more changes that have been made to its basic ingredients, the less benefit it has to our bodies.

        Our Little Bay and Foodilic restaurants always seek to provide the freshest, most nutritious and delicious food to their customers – freshly preparing all their dishes to retain the organoleptic characteristics as well as the nutritional benefit. View our menus and book your table now.

Fruit: The Healthiest Sweet

        Since the dawn of human civilisation, people have eaten fruit. In prehistoric times, people enjoyed fruit fresh from the plant or tree, and could only sample fruits native to their local climates. In fact fruit, along with vegetables and meat (if the hunt was successful), was a main staple of the human diet.

        Today, with the development of the food industry and improvements in processing technology and transportation, we can enjoy fruits from across the globe in all manner of forms – massively increasing our demand. But unfortunately, it is now believed that 25% of the total world production of fruit goes to waste, due in part to poor weather conditions, irregular/late harvesting and improper storage.

        Nevertheless, our consumption of fruits has boomed. Global intake of Apples, Bananas and Oranges alone totals a colossal 255.56 million tonnes each year. But what is the fascination with fruit? Fruit has many “organoleptic characteristics” – it appeals to the senses. Its various coloured pigments appeal to the sight. The range of esters and chemical compounds produce a vast array of fragrances and tastes.

        But not only does it look and taste good, it IS good for us. In fact, we are recommended to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables every day in order to maintain a healthy diet. But why this is so?

Why fruit is a vital part of a healthy diet

        A primary reason why fruits are so nutritious is due to their high levels of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is one of the three primary members of the “Macronutrient” group, alongside protein and fat, which humans must consume in the high volumes in order to maintain our metabolism. However, the sugars (glucose) contained in certain fruits such as grapes can present a challenge to those with Diabetes, especially if they are also sensitive to acids. Blueberries have been found to benefit people with diabetes, as they have a very low glycaemic index.

        A secondary factor is that fruit contains high concentrations of mineral elements which, although only necessary in minimal quantities, are essential to the healthy operation of our immune systems. However, it is a common misconception that fruits being rich in acids, which act as a suitable carrier for Vitamin C, are its best source and therefore vital as a defence against illness and infection. In fact, Peppers and some sort of Cabbage contain much higher quantities.

        Most fruits (with the exceptions of bananas and dog roses) contain large amounts of water. This is extremely important to all humans, and especially athletes, because by consuming fruit they take in added water, which prevents dehydration (although it should be used as a supplement to a regular water intake, and not as an alternative).

        More importantly fruits contain little undissolved dry matter, which means by ingesting the fruit the significant compounds such as sugars, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals which are dissolved in the water are easily absorbed into the body. These include certain antioxidants which are believed to have a strong anti-cancerous effect. Scientific studies have shown the 100g of raspberries, eaten every day for four days, provide sufficient antioxidants to significantly reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses.

        According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 1.7 million deaths (2.8%) worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption. Adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.

        So it is clear to us now that fruit is really beneficial to our health. But with such a wide variety of fruits available to us, which ones should we be eating?

Which fruits are the healthiest?

        We can’t really say that there is a “healthiest fruit” or a “least healthy fruit” – each variety of fruit has a different set of characteristics which benefit our bodies in different ways. For example, the humble blackcurrant contains 60mg of calcium, compared to a fig which contains 35mg, or an apple which contains just 7mg. Iron can be found in high quantities (approx. 1mg per 100g) in fruits such as redcurrants and blackberries. Dog Roses have a concentration of Vitamin C about 10 times higher than most fruits, containing 1250mg for every 100g of fruit.

        On the other hand some fruits, which are beneficial in some aspects, are not so beneficial in others. Take the apple for example – it is often said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying has some grounding in fact as apples have been found to help regulate blood sugar and are a great source of dietary fibre. Nevertheless, with a surprising 19g of sugar in just one medium apple, it is a fruit best enjoyed in moderation.

 

        So what have we learned? Quite simply put: Fruit is vital to life. And with this in mind, our Little Bay and Foodilic restaurants strive to make the most of fruits in their dishes. Why not check out our menus at www.littlebay.co.uk and make your reservation to sample some of our delightful dishes.

Chocolate – Naughty Treat, or Nutritional Gem?

        If you’re not sure what to buy someone as a gift, you’ll find a very safe bet in chocolate. Often referred to as the queen of confectionery world, chocolate is a firm favourite with children across the globe, as it is for adults too (in moderation, of course). In fact, it is rare to find someone who does not eat chocolate at all – many will say they cannot live without it and others, for whom it is not a favourite, still find it to be appetising.

        In today’s healthy society, adults feel compelled to tell children that it is not good to eat chocolate, because their teeth will fall out, they will become ill, they will develop acne, or some other baseless menacing argument to strike fear into them.

        Chocolate has played a key role in the lives of many for millennia, be it as a foodstuff, a drink, for smoking or for use in magic rituals – wherever you go and whatever language is spoken, people will all recognise chocolate. The production of chocolate became widespread within the Maya and Aztec civilisations, with secret recipes being passed down through the generations. However, the chocolate as they would have known it would not be recognisable to us today.

        In these ancient civilisations, there was no use of sugar in the production of chocolate – resulting in a bitter, rich chocolate. Legend has it that sugar was integrated into the production process by accident.

        The cook in the kitchens of Marshal du Plessis-Praslin, a sugar industrialist of the late 17th Century, had developed the idea of the ‘pralin’ – whole almonds individually coated in caramelised sugar – named in honour of the Duke. At this time, although the New World had been discovered and settled, chocolate-producing cocoa was not widely used in European cooking. However, the cook did start producing chocolate in his kitchen.

        On one occasion, the cook accidentally mixed his ‘pralin’ into the chocolate mixture. The resulting ‘chocolat praliné’ was presented to the Comte du Plessis-Praslin who was astounded by this new dessert. Thus, the concept of the Chocolate Praline was born.

       In time, further experimentation with the production process and use of other ingredients resulted in the creation of the great variety of chocolates that we know and love today, from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, soft centred or solid. Furthermore, with the invention of new technology over the ages, the confectionery industry has really seen a boom in the manufacture of chocolate and chocolate products.

        Without a doubt, chocolate has conquered and continues to conquer the world. But along the way many mistruths have arisen about chocolate. Let’s consider some of these.

 

Truths and mistruths about Chocolate

        One of the primary misconceptions about chocolate is that it is unhealthy due to a high level of caffeine. In fact, chocolate contains 75% less caffeine than a cup of coffee.  Some people believe that eating sugary chocolate will lead to weight gain. However, providing a high enough level of physical activity is maintained, eating chocolate will not have any negative effects.

        Especially beneficial are the ‘darker’ varieties of chocolate, which contain more of the cocoa solids. It has become particularly popular with the health-conscious. Being rich in so-called “positive cholesterol”, dark chocolate also contains a vast amount of mineral salts which greatly contribute to the remineralisation and revitalisation of the body. The more bitter varieties of dark chocolate are extremely rich in Iron, comparable to a portion of red meat. There are even varieties of chocolate specifically for diabetics, in which the sugar is substituted with an artificial sweetener.

 

The Conclusion?

        So can we say that chocolate is beneficial in our diet? Indeed it is! Recent scientific studies have shown that the intake of chocolate correlates to positive effects on blood pressure levels, circulation and heart health, being naturally high in anti-oxidants. Small amounts of chocolate also induce stronger concentration and other mental faculties.

        Due to its high energy value, chocolate – especially the darker varieties – is useful to those with physically demanding jobs. Due to its high calcium concentrations, chocolate helps with muscle contraction, including the heart muscles, and encourages enzymatic processes in our body. Furthermore, chocolate contains certain alkaloids such as theobromine and caffeine with stimulate the kidneys and brain respectively.

        So, having weighed the evidence, we can rightly assert that chocolate, especially in its darker and more concentrated varieties,  is a nutritional gem beneficial to both mind and body.