Don’t know what to make for dinner? Perhaps you reach for your newest cookbook (or read it on your iPad) to find the perfect dish for yourself or your family. What you might not realize, though, is that dish—especially if it’s a celebrity chef’s recipe—might not be the healthiest choice.
A recent U.K. study analyzing recipes developed by celebrity chefs found that 87 percent of the 904 recipes contained undesirable nutrients, especially saturated fatty acids, sugar, and salt. Not surprising. I have watched the Food Network more times than I could count and think we are faced with the same situation here in the United States. Rarely do I see a chef on the show prepare a well-rounded, nutritious meal that I would recommend to my patients, unless they have a strong background in nutrition or are a registered dietitian.
The study did not try to “name or shame chefs” but rather bring attention to celebrities that the public does place a lot of trust in them and that there is an opportunity for improvement. I think this is great and wish more chefs realized that a little butter (instead of a slab) and less cream can go a long way, especially with the rise in obesity in our country. Creating dishes that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium should become more the norm.
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The study findings actually remind me of celebrity diets. Wouldn’t it be great if a celebrity lost weight eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables versus some new detox plan they were on—and if the media covered it? Whether they like it or not, celebrities are role models. What they eat, what they cook, what they wear, and where they exercise are of interest to so many people and emulated as well.
Are you familiar with the saying “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, that may be true for a celebrity cookbook—who knows what you will find inside.
Pay attention to the nutrition facts for recipes, and if none are provided, let the ingredients be your guide. The more healthy fats being incorporated (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds) versus saturated fat (butter, cream, whole milk, bacon), the better. Recipes that use herbs and spices instead a lot of sodium for flavoring tend to be smarter choices too, as well as those that include 100-percent whole grains and lots of vegetables.