Fish, seafood and eggs should be our first choices

Contradictory advice about nutrition that gets aired by the media often disorients consumers without improving their dietary habits, according to recent research by the Agricultural University of Athens. Greeks eat as much meat as other Europeans, but despite their close connections with the sea do not eat fish or seafood very often. They drink low-fat milk, missing out on the fat soluble vitamins it contains, and have stopped eating eggs because they were blamed for their high cholesterol content. These findings were reported at a one-day conference, «Consumers and the truth about animal food products» on Thursday, organized by the university’s animal products department. Greeks consume an average of 80.8 kilos of meat (poultry, pork, beef, lamb and goat) per capita every year, compared with the European Union average of 85.4 kilos. Despite what is commonly believed, there is not a great deal of difference in the amount of cholesterol contained in different types of meat. Chicken breast contains about 86 micrograms of cholesterol per 100 grams, while pork contains about 92 micrograms. Greece lags well behind other countries in the amounts of fish and seafood consumed: only 14.34 kilos per capita, compared with 39 kilos for Spain, 30 kilos for Sweden, and 23 kilos for Italy. Only Turkey has lower fish and seafood consumption, just nine kilos per capita every year. «Of course, oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies provide the vital fish oils that lower the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol,» says Professor Sofronios Papoutsoglou, director of the Hydrobiology Laboratory. The fear of cholesterol has dramatically reduced consumption of eggs in Greece, says Assistant Professor Ioannis Fengeros, but he explains that eggs are not harmful when eaten in moderation, and combined with fruit and vegetables. The fact that this was the sixth anniversary of what was known as the «Night of Imia,» the night on which Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over rival flag-waving on two Greek islets in the very eastern Aegean in 1996, was completely lost in the resulting fray. Rumors spread immediately that Stephanopoulos, who is above reproach in his dealings but sensitive (perhaps to a fault), might just resign. This would have forced Parliament to elect a new president. As neither big party has the 180 votes needed for this, it would be most likely that national elections would have to be called. This would throw Greece, totally unprepared, into an election period that would prevent any of the reforms or other difficult decisions that need to be taken.