Taking the peas!

I don’t know if there is some higher power that gets to decide what is a vegetable and what isn’t, but I am pretty sure that the British public is as susceptible to trigger happy headlines as a duck is to water.

With this in mind I find it pretty unacceptable, and arguably dangerous, that some academic types have taken it onto themselves to play nutrition god.

It isn’t necessarily about the peas themselves, they are a good source of fibre, protein, vitamin C AND, more importantly, they contain PHYTONUTRIENTS, which are a key component of all fruits and vegetables.

Phytonutrients have all kinds of benefits. Whether it be skin or eye health, circulation benefits or anti-cancer/anti-viral properties, they are a massive reason why eating fruits and vegetables are beneficial for a human's health.

Why is this so important?

The situation of our health as a nation isn’t a pretty one, and published research has a big part to play in terms of public perception of certain foods.

We always choose to have controversial and definitive headlines reign supreme over those that offer themselves to nuance and further questioning.

Headlines like ‘ALZHEIMER RISK REDUCED BY 30%’ or ‘LIVE 25% LONGER BY...’ are eye grabbing. And I get it: newspapers need sales, online publications want more clicks and readers want quick and easily accessible information. However, any expert will tell you that research often lends itself to cherry picking and funding bias, and these are things most people don’t consider before believing audacious claims.

Actual experts will use terms like ‘this may indicate’ or ‘the research suggests that’ to show that although the findings from a certain study may show a certain result, that the findings in the future could easily change and therefore nothing is actually certain.

The Latin phrase ‘Que bono’ is very relevant here, and should be the first question you ask yourself before you read any piece of research. Who benefits? Could it be that the dairy industry would release studies showing the benefits of cheese? Well, yes actually.

Would the meat industry do the same? Yes.

But I digress, back to the peas.

It is one thing to encourage people to eat questionable, processed food, but to get people to perhaps disassociate from one of the most nutrient dense foods is something else.

These kinds of headlines tend to get to people and affect what ends up on their plates.

For many people, peas are a really easily accessible food and could be the staple vegetable at dinner time, so I urge you to keep them there and not listen to the charlatans.

When considering what food might end up on your plate, research what nutritional components make it up, and what benefits those components have for your own health. Research where it has come from i.e. organic/processed.

And apply this same level of research when you see inflammatory headlines, to decipher what is sensationalism and what is actual fact. Is the study funded by a 3rd party? Who stands to gain from this? What does previous research say on the matter?

All of this can be a quagmire to go through, but luckily our friends at examine.com collate all the research and quantify it for us all to enjoy. If you’re struggling to make sense of a topic area, head over and have a crack! I love using examine for its simplicity and wealth of information available.

What is your staple vegetable at dinner time?

Let us know in the comments below!

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