Blow-outs can be good for you

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Don't blame it on the bacon and the bangers any longer. While the British have long resigned themselves to having the most aesthetically lamentable diet in Europe, the Consumers' Association claimed yesterday it could be healthier than that of our European neighbours.

According to Health Which? magazine, we have been force-fed the idea that fusilli and foccacia are always superior to meat and two veg, whereas the reality is that traditional British food can sometimes be less fatty and lower in calories than the Mediterranean diet.

This is quite an achievement for a nation whose culinary triumphs include the deep-fried Mars bar and the black pudding. But according to Amanda Ursell, dietician and food writer, it is time to stand up for the British diet, which she says has been bullied and belittled unfairly.

Fancy a healthy-looking Greek salad with garlic bread? Frankly you'd be better off with shepherd's pie and broccoli says Ms Ursell: "You'd wipe 429 calories and a massive 39g of fat off your daily intake."

Or have you been denying yourself a full Sunday roast for Italian risotto and tomato side salad? "There's really no debate on the fat front; it is a great British lean triumph," added Ms Ursell. "Roast chicken, roast spuds, baked parsnips, cabbage and sweetcorn come out with 17 grams v 30 grams [4 grams v 11 grams of which are saturated] for the risotto."

Lean pork chops with boiled potatoes, carrots and frozen peas score more highly on the vitamin C and vitamin E stakes than lasagne with a chunk of bread as well as having 22 per cent less fat.

But before we throw away the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes, the British Heart Foundation warned that the British diet is still too high in saturated fats, which leaves us with a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"We've got to cut down totally," said Belinda Linden, cardiac nurse adviser to the BHF. "Cutting saturated fat is crucial to our diet ... This is not the time to go back to black pudding."