Belfast Telegraph

Why the Ulster Fry is now a healthy option

By Frances Burscough

I’ve always been interested in healthy eating and drinking guidelines. I largely ignore them, like, but I am interested.

One of the main reasons is that, like fashion fads, they are always changing. Almost every week there is a report about what is bad or good for you and these often contradict each other and tell a completely different story. So a few months back I decided to look into it further and I started to keep a file of reports on that precise subject. Call me a nerd, but it does make interesting reading in which almost every food group is given the thumbs up in one article and the thumbs down in the next. It is also useful because you can justify almost anything you like, from burgers and biscuits to booze. Happy days!

The most controversial example in recent weeks was that report about bacon. In it, the World Health Organisation (the people responsible for the Swine Flu hysteria in 2009) warned that rashers and sausages were as much of a cancer risk as cigarettes. Ok, I won’t smoke them then, was my response. But by the end of the month, sales of said porcine products had fallen by 17% and retailers were starting to panic. However, just as I was about to follow the trend in pork prohibition another report appeared which made it all better again.   

And I quote: “University studies have shown that bacon naturally works to lower the body’s blood pressure. It also contains the brain-building nutrient called ‘choline’, which helps increase brain development, intelligence and memory and reduce the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s and other chronic mental impairments.”

Ok, granted that the article appeared in a magazine called Bacon Today, which may not be the most impartial publication and may possibly have a vested interest in the pork trade, but still I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt if it saves my breakfast butties. 

So no sooner had it been off, than bacon was back on the menu again. Heck, it sounds like it would be dangerous not to eat it by all accounts!

Next up — red meat, the very scourge of many dieticians. We’ve all been told for years that red meat is bad for us in so many ways. However, The British Journal of Nutrition, no less, pointed out recently that cutting it out of your diet may result in vitamin B12, selenium, iron and potassium deficiencies, resulting in anaemia, fertility problems and immunodeficiency. I’ll have the steak then, and make it sacré bleu!

Dairy products are a daily part of my diet and yet these too have been proven and disproven and then proven again to cause assorted health problems. I don’t think I could live without cheese, butter, milk and eggs, so I went looking for a definitive answer and I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Fortunately I found a report specifically about the joys of dairy. Although it is a well known fact that milk products are good for bones and teeth, researchers from the University of Bristol proved that it helps lower blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of heart disease and strokes. Thank you, Bristol, that’s just what I wanted to hear. 

As for alcohol, well there have been some really interesting claims made lately, positively encouraging us to drink more. Like I need persuading. In Good Living magazine there’s a feature this month entitled ‘Drinking Champagne a Few Times a Week Could Help Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s’.

Perfect. I didn’t even bother to read the text. As long as the same thing applies to prosecco and cava (a quarter of the price of champagne) then I won’t need much persuading to follow their suggestion. It’s for the good of my health, after all. 

Meanwhile, cooking with lard — considered the most heinous of all culinary crimes in modern times — is also being re-examined after the team from BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor series discovered it was actually healthier than sunflower oil.

So who’s for a Full Ulster complete with fried bread washed down with a bottle of bubbly? For medicinal purposes, you understand. 

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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