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Indian takeaway calorie count 'enough for two people'

Published 16/11/2015

A typical Indian takeaway has about twice the recommended maximum level of fat and high levels of salt, according to health chiefs
A typical Indian takeaway has about twice the recommended maximum level of fat and high levels of salt, according to health chiefs

A typical Indian takeaway meal has enough food for two people, health chiefs have warned.

The Safefood watchdog revealed research on the popular starter, main course and pilau rice dinner can contain far more calories than an adult's total daily requirements.

It also has about twice the recommended maximum level of fat and high levels of salt.

The all-island health body revealed the nation's favourite Indian courses were chicken tikka masala, chicken korma and chicken jalfrezi.

Research by the University of Ulster also found the average portion of peshwari naan bread contains 748 calories while an average portion of the tikka masala main course contained 1,249 calories.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition with the Safefood group, said the standard Indian takeaway is vastly different from traditional dishes in the sub-continent.

"While traditional meals in India are low in fat, high in fibre and rich in fruit and vegetables, chefs here have adapted their recipes to suit local taste buds favouring foods high in fat and salt and serving bigger portions," she said.

"These dishes have become very popular, but the Indian dishes tested in this survey were less than healthy."

University researchers analysed 280 Indian food samples from 36 outlets in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with bigger proportion of takeaways sampled in Dublin and Belfast.

To determine the most popular orders, 40 takeaways in the Republic and 20 in the north were chosen at random and surveyed by phone.

The most popular choices for starters were onion bhaji, chicken pakora and chicken tikka and for sides boiled and pilau rice, plain and peshwari naan and poppadoms were top of the list.

It found all starters contained one third of an adult's total daily amount for salt.

Safefood described peshwari naan bread as like having a slice of cake as it contains significantly more energy, total and saturated fat than plain naan - some samples had as much as 168% of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat.

Other findings showed rice portions contained enough for two people, with servings of pilau rice on average enough for two people.

Less than 10% of outlets provided healthier options for their takeaway service.

Ruth Price of Ulster University who carried out the research, urged people to think about moderation.

"Our advice is not that consumers should avoid these takeaway foods, but rather consider consuming them less often and in moderation, by either choosing smaller portions, sharing portions or limiting the added extras such as starters and side orders," she said.

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