Wednesday 28 September 2016

Nuts, fruit, cereal and fish were St Patrick's recipe for success

Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30

Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick

St Patrick didn't just know how to banish snakes and convert Irish pagans to Christianity - he also knew a thing or two about a healthy diet.

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A University College Cork (UCC) historian has revealed the fermented and foraged foods on which the Welsh-born missionary converted an entire nation are now amongst the hottest food trends internationally.

UCC food historian Regina Sexton said the 5th Century diet on which St Patrick travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to preach the Gospel is now firmly back on the menu for modern foodies.

"This was neither a throw-away nor a take-away society and people took good care to preserve and conserve foods for future use that could not be consumed immediately," she said.

An intensive study of the 5th Century diet has revealed it mirrors the foods modern doctors prescribe as amongst the healthiest possible.

"It was high in fibre, Omega 3 fatty acids, fermented milks, low GI grains, protein, minerals and vitamins but it was low in sugars and meat," she added.

"It is safe to say that obesity was not a problem in those days, and that the fare was seasonal, wholesome and modest by modern standards."

Amongst the most savoured items of the time were fish, seaweed and nuts.

The diet was noted for its lack of meat and full-fat cheeses.

Somewhat incredibly, given modern Irish tastes, there was also very little butter.

"Is this the latest super food diet, restaurant trend or is it just the diet of Ireland's national saint?" asked Ms Sexton. The UCC scholar said items such as soured milk drinks, oatmeal, seaweeds, wild fruits and vegetables were staples in the Irish early medieval diet.

Irish Independent

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