Engaging with cooks for healthy diets

International Year of Pulses (IYP) Special Ambassador for Europe Jenny Chandler gives a talk at the FAO symposium on nutrition

Good nutrition is widely recognized to be essential for anyone who wants to lead a healthy and productive life. Yet poor nutrition, hunger and poverty are still global concerns. With the conclusion of the symposium, countries and non-state actors from civil society, the private sector and research/academic institutions, are calling for action to shape food systems to make them deliver foods for healthy and nutritious diets.

During her engaging talk at the symposium, Jenny Chandler, food blogger and cook, as well as FAO Special Ambassador for the IYP, shared her concerns about the future direction of global nutrition policies.

Worldwide obesity has more than doubled in the past 25 years. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes. Ms Chandler warned against the risks of a diet based on highly processed food, which combined to a sedentary lifestyle is the easiest way to suffer from bad health. In this context, she referred to the importance of challenging and changing our own eating habits and lifestyles.  

As part of a balanced diet, pulses can contribute to a better health. They are low in calories, high in complex carbohydrates, fibre and micronutrients, and can thus help to improve heart health and to lower blood cholesterol.

In order to improve our diets and health, Ms Chandler recommended to simply look to the past for inspiration, as much of the culinary heritage around the world includes beautifully balanced dishes. Everywhere, from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, there is an abundance of recipes that are both nutritious and tasty.  Not surprisingly, pulses are a central ingredient in many of them.