How healthy is the ‘Dominic Raab special’?

In this country, we’ve always harboured a peculiar fascination for our politicians’ eating habits and dietary quirks. David Miliband’s banana. His brother Ed’s bacon sandwich. Diane Abbott’s M&S mojito in a tin. George Osborne’s “posh” Byron burger. Jeremy Corbyn’s vegetarian falafel, from Gaby’s Deli in Westminster. David Cameron, delicately tucking into a hot dog with a knife and fork at a barbecue. 

But rarely before has the good health of our leaders been of such critical concern, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson currently in intensive care receiving treatment for coronavirus, and Dominic Raab – the  First Secretary of State, and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – standing in as his deputy. 

Perhaps that’s why, over the past 24 hours, we’ve seen a re-emergence of another culinary quirk of Westminster: the idea that Raab is apparently fond of a very particular lunch. 

Back in 2018, his then diary secretary told an undercover reporter that Raab has the same sandwich meal day. “It’s from Pret. He has the chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and the vitamin volcano smoothie every day.”

At the time, Mr Raab, who was once the captain of the karate club at Oxford, told BBC Radio 5. “I don’t recall ever asking my diary secretary to get me lunch. But the reality is I do love a good chicken caesar baguette from Pret.”

So, just how healthy is said baguette? According to Harley Street nutrition therapist Ian Marber, author of ManFood: The no-nonsense guide to improving your health and energy in your 40s and beyond (£13.99, Telegraph Books), it’s not as bad as you may think.

“The lunchtime baguette is quite good,” says Marber of Raab’s stone-baked choice, which features British chicken breast coated in caesar mayo, with beech-smoked bacon, shavings of Italian matured cheese, yogurt mayo and peppery rocked, and a smattering of sunflower seeds. 

“At 592 calories, it’s in line with a suggested intake of 2,200 for an adult man. There’s 4.8g saturated fat, 30g for a man being the max daily. While saturated fat used to be demonised, we now know that we need some, but not a huge amount.

“The baguette contains around 1g salt, 6g being the upper limit – so it reaches ⅙ of recommended salt intake for the day.

“Bacon is only 4% of the product and while we are advised not to exceed 50g processed meat a day to reduce risk of colorectal cancers, this falls well within that – assuming he doesn’t have a salami fest at dinner.”

And what of the fruit pot, a rainbow of mango alongside kiwi, pomegranate seeds and blueberries? “The fruit pot contains few calories but will offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and polyphenols,” says Marber. 

The sugary vitamin volcano smoothie – a blend of forest fruits, including blackberry, boysenberry, raspberry and strawberry – is slightly less ideal, containing 29.5g sugars. “However, this is not sugar in the singular, but a blend of fruit and juices containing natural sugars,” Marber points out. “My only beef with smoothies is that being blended, the fibre content is reduced, compared to the whole fruit. That said they contain more fruit than one might otherwise have time to eat, so it’s perhaps balanced out.”

Marber is also impressed with Raab’s fibre intake from his preferred daily lunch. “He’ll be getting 11g fibre in total from lunch, and since the recommended target is 30g, that’s 1/3 from a main meal. Not bad.”

But what about having the same thing every day? That can’t be healthy? “It’s not a huge problem to have the same thing every day” says Marber, “although ideally one would go for variety for a balance of nutrients over time. Overall, his lunch contains protein, fibre and most of the important nutrients and micronutrients needed.

“Men have a higher risk of some conditions as we age, for a variety of reasons ranging from physiology to lifestyle, and to some extent good nutrition can help offset some of the risk.”

Source Article