How Comfort Food Can Sharpen Your Mind and Support Weight Loss

Amanda M. Rye

Good Spanish food doesn’t get much better than paella,” tweeted Jamie Oliver in 2016, before casually mentioning that his recipe for it included chorizo. The response from Spain was immediate – and brutal. Some compared the unconventional addition of the spiced meat to the desecration of the Ecce Homo Jesus fresco in Zaragoza; others went as far as suggesting that they’d kill him. “I had death threats,” Oliver said on The Graham Norton Show, “because of a bit of sausage.”

a pan of food on a wooden table: There's more to your bangers and mash than you think

© Tatiana Volgutova
There’s more to your bangers and mash than you think

It was yet another manifestation of Oliver’s apparent war on the world’s traditional rice recipes, whose front lines have extended from a flagrantly inauthentic egg-fried rice to a parsley- and-coriander-loaded joll of rice that seemed closer in spirit to West Acton than to West Africa. But the anger of the purists is, perhaps, misplaced. These dishes are comfort foods, and comfort is inherently subjective. For an Essex boy like Oliver, maybe throwing in a banger was just second nature – a culinary short cut to that sense of homely, mood-boosting indulgence that these foods are supposed to offer. After all, as food writer Nichola Fletcher once wrote, sausages are “the embodiment of comfort food”.

Yet comfort is far from the only thing that bangers provide. A 100g serving of traditional English sausage meat, for example, contains 40% of your daily protein requirement and just under a fifth of your RDA of B vitamins, which support efficient energy use and boost your cognitive function as you age. And despite their ominous association with grease, much of the fat in sausages is monounsaturated – the kind that helps to reduce blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease – while pork is also a potent source of metabolism- revving hormone coenzyme Q1. So, during this month of post-Christmas dietary privations, take comfort in the knowledge that a sausage butty (or even a chorizo paella) needn’t be off limits.

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