Salt in the wounds

Killer vegetables? Fatal fruit? Some days everything seems to be bad for you. But that's not the real story.

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Keeping fit is, as we suggest in the related editorial, a sensible goal for all. But some days it seems that good health confusingly also requires us to limit our intake of certain fruits and vegetables. Surprising, isn't it?

But consider these recent news items: A man was rushed to hospital after binge-eating Brussels sprouts, which are rich in vitamin K, a blood thickener that neutralised his anticoagulant medication. More prescription medications are now known to be made dangerously more potent when combined with grapefruit. Some experts report that bananas and onions can trigger headaches; previous research links various foods with migraines. Suddenly fast-food doesn't sound so bad.

There are always scare stories. Eggs for example, have been good for you and bad for you, by turns, for decades, depending on the latest research. Some findings of this type - such as the one about grapefruit - are firmly established, but others are quirky news reports, or just theories, not to be taken too seriously. On balance the best advice is still the simple formula enunciated in 2007 by US food writer Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Only the first part needs explaining: "food", he means, is simple and natural - chicken yes, deep frying it no.

As for all those other theories, we'd better take them with a pinch of salt. But not too much salt. Or is it too little?