Recently I read an article in the herald sun that discussed whether celebrity chefs are really a good influence on healthy eating. If you think about it, there really has been a recent influx of celebrity cooking shows that have flooded our televisions over the last few years with the likes of master chef and my kitchen rules gaining prime time viewing. The article also highlighted that certain celebrity chefs are using staggering amounts of saturated fat within their cooking, which made me wonder (not to say that I hadn’t already thought about this numerous time), where does this all lead if it is helping people re-learn the art of cooking, although mainly focused on unhealthier techniques?
The article highlighted Gary Mehigan’s Tuscan beef stew contains a whopping 64g of fat, whilst it is only recommended that we consume around 20g of saturated fat per day. It was unclear of the level of saturated fat but one could assume it would be relatively high. Although one meal is only reflected here, it is not uncommon to see large amounts of butter going into the foods being cooked, which no doubt, produces foods that some would think tastes quite gourmet,however wouldn’t be so amazing for our hips or health.
Large amounts of saturated fat within our diet can increase our levels of LDL cholesterol. This form of cholesterol is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol which can tighten our arteries and increase our risk towards future possibilities of heart attacks and stroke. Saturated fat can also cause a build up of plaque within our blood vessels, increasing our risk of heart disease.
We must not neglect the positive side to celebrity cooking shows, which promotes cooking in the home again. On most occasions, this would be a better option than investing in takeaway foods. I think it would be interesting for people to try and get their hands on the nutritional information of the foods they purchase from take away sites. If the site was able to give you this information at your request, you are likely to find the sodium content remarkably high (high sodium diets being associated with raised blood pressure). A stir fried noodles dish from an Asian restaurant may seem like a healthy option, although by the time they give you a meal that weighs about 300-400g, and is covered in the typical sauces that are used, it is likely that a small sedentary person is obtaining almost 50% of their kilojoule requirements for the day, and could easily be consuming 50-100% of their sodium intake in the one meal (not sounding so healthy after all is it?).
So the message I am hoping to pass on here is, if you enjoy learning from these celebrity master chefs, make sure you watch the nutritional content too. Do learn the art of cooking from them, but make sure you play healthy chef as well, thinking about how you can modify recipes to maintain flavour and presentation, whilst still not neglecting your health.
For those that have foxtel, or are available for a mid afternoon viewing on channel 10, I believe there is a show good chef bad chef, which uses a nutritionist vs a chef to whip up gourmet meals, this may be of interest to some of you; and for those that want cooking classes, I stumbled across this site that looks quite good (VIC readers).