Egyptian priests' 'junk food diet'
Published 26/02/2010 | 06:44
The food of the gods in Ancient Egypt was more likely to guarantee an early grave than immortality, scientists have discovered.
Delicious and bountiful banquets offered to the gods and eaten by Egyptian priests and their families were laden with artery-clogging saturated fat, research shows.
The evidence comes from hieroglyphic inscriptions on temple walls and the priests' mummified remains - which bear the unmistakable signs of damaged arteries and heart disease.
Sumptuous meals of beef, wild fowl, bread, fruit, vegetables, cake, wine and beer were given up to the gods three times a day.
After making their offerings at the temple, the priests would adopt a "shame to let it go to waste" policy and take them back home to their families.
Professor Rosalie David, from the University of Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences, who led the study, said: "There couldn't be a more evocative message: live like a god and you will pay with your health.
"It also shows that blocked arteries caused by rich diets are not just a modern malaise - the problem goes back to ancient civilisations."
Experts carried out a new translation of hieroglyphs in Egyptian temples to reveal the offerings menu.
The inscriptions described the rituals performed and how the priests afterwards shared the food with their families.
Much of what they ate was rich in saturated fat and would be classified today as "junk food".