Jim Duffy: Forget Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice, lard is the new coconut oil

Gwyneth Paltrow and colleagues have released a book called Goop Clean Beauty, which includes advice on how to clean up your 'leaky gut' (Picture: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Goop)
Gwyneth Paltrow and colleagues have released a book called Goop Clean Beauty, which includes advice on how to clean up your 'leaky gut' (Picture: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Goop)
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Jim Duffy is off to Stonehaven for the world’s best fish and chips after the latest advice from scientists.

Two things have caught my eye this week. One is the fact that my annual chest infection is taking a lot longer to clear up than normal.

This indicates to me that my resilience in middle to old age is deteriorating, although choosing not to go and get antibiotics still feels the right thing to do. I remember being able to run 10K races with a chest infection and simply cough up the muck that came up on the roadside as I ran. “Wire brush and Dettol” as Sir Billy Connolly would say. No problems then, but now my body is telling me it needs more time to regenerate and fight infection.

The second notion to catch my eye is that ‘clean eating’ is a total waste of time for you and me. It’s time to hit the fish suppers again and forget the smashed avocado on gluten-free toast.

This week, a Harvard University professor stated that coconut oil is “pure poison”. Some might see this as a bold statement from a nutty professor but Dr Karin Michels, an epidemiology specialist from the US institution’s school of public health, claimed the ingredient was “one of the worst foods you can eat”. Really!

I was under the distinct impression that coconut oil was the top of the list of healthy foods for those of us who want to be the fittest pensioner in the old folks’ home. But what is clean eating? Here is the best definition I can offer. Clean eating is a simple and healthy approach to eating. You’ll find plenty of whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. To clean up your diet, you’ll want to limit the amount of refined grains, salt, alcohol and added sugars you consume. There you are then. Ostensibly living and eating like a monk.

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One of my favourite dishes that I cook and wow people with is my lamb madras curry. I’m afraid there is no humility here as this is a dish plucked right out of curry heaven. It is majestic. I have been told so by all my guests who have had the pleasure of tasting it with my whole-grain basmati quinoa rice. However, I cannot take all the credit as, to be fair and equitable to Joe Wicks, the celebrity chef, it is actually his recipe.

All I do is follow his instructions. And there was you thinking I was a pompous idiot raving about my culinary skills... Anyway, Mr Wick’s recipe is awesome and I would urge anyone who likes a flavoursome lamb curry to give it a go. That said, this special dish is not made with vegetable oil. Not even extra virgin olive oil. No, this little gem is constructed around coconut oil. Yikes!

As many of you will know, Joe Wicks is more than just a chef. He is a body coach who eats, cooks, lives and breathes great food and lots of exercise. If you Google him, he looks great, albeit when he opens his mouth this “Essex” accent pops out and, for some reason, the gorgeous face and torso does not seem to fit with the voice box.

While he says he doesn’t really get the whole cleaning-eating thing, Joe is regarded as a real authority on healthy chuck. But, does he know that one of his ingredients may be killing him, at least according to the good Harvard professor?

Coconut oil has had plenty of celebrity endorsements that have helped fuel its popularity, with stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and the Kardashian sisters enthusing about it as both a dietary supplement and beauty product. So what now?

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Well, apparently eating lard is healthier, according to our Harvard don. And a good deal cheaper to boot I’d suggest. To bring some cheer to this story, I did also I see this week that, in endless part of the battle of the chippies to be the best, one entrepreneurial venture in Scotland has come up with a successful offering.

Yes, sunny Stonehaven on the east coast of Bonny Scotland is the top place to get a cracking fish supper. Only this cuisine will not be cooked in coconut oil. And if we take the words and research from Harvard seriously then that can only be a good thing. The Bay fish and chip shop, overlooking a handsome little North Sea inlet south of Aberdeen, appears at the top of the UK’s entries in the Lonely Planet’s new collection of the world’s best food experiences. Who would have thought it after Stonehaven gave birth to the deep fried Mars Bar in 1992 ...

Perhaps it is time to get back to the basics in Scotland. Instead of twee parties with lots of clean-eating canapés and superfoods, we should be stocking up on what made us who we are, what we are good at and, it appears, what could be just as healthy for us as some of the posh crap we are being sold via Saturday morning TV chefs.

Clean eating may seem like a noble pursuit. But like all fads and diets, not all is as it seems. My old grandad loved his fish and chips, a wee dram and his mince and tatties and he lived to 92 years of age.

He walked every day and everywhere, so maybe that was his way of living a “clean” life. In times when we are being told what to eat, what to drink and how to exercise to have a body fit for Love Island, perhaps we should stop listening to others advice and start listening to ourselves and our own bodies.

I do hope I’ve put you in the mood for fish, chips and peas this weekend. And why not...