Thursday 18 January 2018

Healthy eating: Susan Jane White dressing up a salad for a life-enhancing boost

Get your salad dressed up, says Susan Jane White, with matcha green tea and avocado for a life-enhancing boost

Matcha is the Rolls-Royce of green teas. This neon-green powder houses a gobsmacking amount of protective catechins. Health scientists get indecently excited about these compounds.

The whole tea leaf is ground into a powder, as opposed to diluted in a teabag, which helps explain why matcha has significantly more antioxidants and pomposity than regular green tea. Be careful not to fall for all the hype of 137 antioxidants per sip, bottomless libido and eternal life. Spring always brings a frenzy of food fads and preposterous promises.

Despite all this, matcha is easy to introduce into your daily regime, it requires no cooking, and it provides excellent ammunition for those awkward silences in the office canteen. You can buy it from an Irish website, And, if you're in Dublin, you can even order matcha in La Stampa -- I've heard that overworked cabinet ministers and underworked models love it. Or is it the other way around?

Green Tea Salad Dressing

If you could only do one thing to improve your health this month, swap that nasty bottled stuff for this incredibly rich dressing. And be sceptical of pseudo-foods that vow to reduce cholesterol. Some manufacturers use the cheapest possible oils to make salad dressings and hide under the pretence of being healthy. 'Cholesterol-free' is a similarly deceptive marketing device among companies that use noxious hydrogenated fats. So a seemingly healthy product can do more harm to your cholesterol levels than good.

Mother N provides cheaper, healthier, tastier alternatives. For example, oleic fat in avocados has been shown to lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol and boost 'good' HDL cholesterol. Think of HDL as the garbage truck of the bloodstream, ferrying bad cholesterol from the walls of our arteries back to the liver for disposal. That's is why HDL is referred to as 'good' or protective cholesterol.

But that's not all. Avocados contain a useful compound called beta-sitosterol that also services your cholesterol count. There's vitamin E to help strengthen veins and capillaries, as well as thin the blood. And just when your cardiologist was about to applaud, in rides the mineral potassium to help rescue high sodium levels in the blood. Best of all -- and unlike pharmaceutical statins -- there are no nasty side effects from scoffing avocados. While pharmaceutical statins do a good job of reducing the risk of clogged arteries, studies published in the British Medical Journal have shown certain foods to have similarly positive effects by naturally raising HDL levels. This is excellent news.

Unfortunately, most of us have come to rely on drugs, not food, to maintain our arteries. This means we have delegated accountability to little white pills every morning, instead of changing our eating habits. Poor dietary choices are a major risk factor in developing high cholesterol. But you already knew that. Genetics is another. So if a family member suffers from hazardous cholesterol scores, chances are you share a similar DNA blueprint.

It's worth remembering that while genetics may be the loaded gun, lifestyle and diet pull the trigger.

You will need:

1 large ripe avocado, stone and skin removed

? teaspoon matcha green tea

Pinch of wasabi powder or paste

Juice of 1 orange

Give all the ingredients a jolly fine whizz with a hand-held blender. That's all there is to it. Tumble through your favourite leaves, or bump up the wasabi content and use this as a virtuous dip. I recommend dusting with fresh red chilli to ignite a dull evening or vexatious guest.


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