Moderation is the Secret

Medical research keeps unravelling the most unexpected results that are baffling to say the least. Potatoes, which have always been considered safe and healthy, have been found to raise blood pressure if consumed more than four times a week. Surprisingly mashed, boiled, or baked potatoes are nearly as likely to raise blood pressure as chips, the research reveals.



Researchers from the Harvard Medical School said they suspected that the starch in potatoes was to blame. Because potatoes have a high glycaemic index these starchy carbohydrates rapidly transform into sugars in the body, triggering a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.

In the long term this may cause blood sugar problems, exacerbating diabetes. The experts, whose work was published recently in the British Medical Journal analysed data from 187,000 men and women tracked in three large US projects for 20 years. The results suggest that women who regularly eat potatoes may be at slightly higher risk of blood pressure than men.

Overall, however, they found that men and women who ate four or more servings of baked, boiled or mashed potatoes a week had an 11% increased risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate potatoes less than once a month. Those who ate chips four or more times a week had a 17% higher risk of high blood pressure.

Replacing one serving a day of potatoes with one serving of non-starchy vegetables led to a 7% drop in the risk of high blood pressure, they found. Eating crisps had no effect the experts discovered. The researchers said that potatoes should no longer be included as vegetables when the government issued health advice, just as they aren’t in the UK.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This type of study can only show an association, not cause and effect. Although a higher consumption of potatoes such as mashed potatoes or French fries, was associated with high blood pressure, it is still possible that other factors in the diet or lifestyle are also affecting the results.’ She added: ‘In the UK white potatoes are not included in the five a day recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.

‘Nearly 30% of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, so it is key that we understand the condition and its causes.’

Professor Tom Sanders of King’s College London said: ‘Being overweight, a high intake of salt and alcohol, and a low intake of potassium are all known to increase blood pressure, but the effects of individual foods are less certain.

‘Generally, fruit and vegetables are associated with low blood pressure, with the exception of pickled vegetables. However, potatoes – especially chips – are often consumed with added salt which may be part of the explanation for this association with raised blood pressure.

‘I don’t think this study should be used to discourage people from eating potatoes. In the UK potatoes are more widely consumed than in the US and make an important contribution to the intake of Vitamin C and potassium.’

Now you have been told. Food in general taken in small quantities is, in my view, the key to a healthy diet and the less you eat in the evening, the better sleep you get and the more fit you become. Obesity and gourmandise are the scourge of it all.



Virginal White Is Best

I was not surprised to read the other day that painting your home white can, in some way, act as a sort of natural air conditioning to keep the home cool and protected from heatwaves.

Health chiefs believe that such a simple way of counteracting a clammy atmosphere is beneficial. Other advice includes installing metal blinds and dark curtains, and putting a damp cloth on the back of the neck in hot weather.

A forty-six page document issued by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) also recommends that people eat cold food such as salad and fruit and avoid alcohol and caffeine. It aims to prevent seasonal deaths and prepare officials in the event of a heatwave.

Temperatures need only rise to 76.1 Fahrenheit (24.5 Celsius) for people to start dying, the document reveals. It is part of the response to the devastating pan European heatwave of 2003 which saw more than 20,000 people die including 2,000 in the UK after the warmest summer in 500 years.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, warned that such heatwaves could be ‘normal by 2040’. She said: ‘as a result of climate change we are increasingly likely to experience extreme summer temperatures that may be harmful to health. We want to make sure that everyone takes simple precautions to stay healthy during periods of hot weather and when in the sun.’

Doctor Angie Bone, head of extreme events at PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, reminded Britain that exposure to excessive heat can kill. She said: ‘While hot weather is enjoyable for most people and uncomfortable for some, sadly experience tells us that exposure to excessive heat can kill, with most cases of illness and death caused by heart and lung disease.’

I know for a fact that, miraculously, white paint and high ceilings are almost a natural deterrent for a heatwave. Our apartment, which fortunately has both of these factors, is as cool in the summer  and healthier than any air conditioning can provide. So there is perhaps some madness in the latest discovery but I can assure you it works – at least for us!

A Passing Thought

God created women with his glorious artistry to show us that beauty, like virtue, is to be marvelled at, cherished and admired for its feel -good properties.



Malin Åkerman, born May 12 1978, is a Swedish Canadian actress, model and singer. She is best known for making appearances in several Canadian productions. In her latest role she plays actor Damian Lewis’s wife in the new series ‘Billions’ which started recently on Sky Atlantic. Posh Damian, 45, plays hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod.

As Åkerman’s pictures show, she is a beauty who poses for a sizzling photoshoot in order to promote her new series. She looks a billion dollar babe who is not afraid to expose her boobs when her role demands it. Sexy and elegant, she has a certain elan which I find most enticing. No one who loves women will find it easy to resist her and for this aspect alone I salute her and hope that she will continue to captivate us in a variety of ways that unfold naturally to reveal more of her inner sublimity.



Donald Trump Shows His True Colours

Last Saturday I saw Donald Trump addressing a large audience of his faithful supporters as I turned my television on for the latest news on the feared coup in Turkey. It was an opportunity to see the man in action, a man I knew during the 1980s rather well, and I was curious enough to listen to him as a potential president of the United States.

I was very disappointed to hear him. Although Trump was full of gusto he became boringly repetitive whilst from time to time trying – without much success – to tell us that the reason for the gathering was to introduce his sidekick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate. He eventually introduced Pence after a monotonous speech that focussed entirely on himself and barely mentioned the man he was supposed to be inaugurating.

In an appearance that marked a pivotal moment in his campaign Mr Trump was slated to explain to supporters why he had decided on Mike Pence and unite them behind his choice. Mr Trump said Mr Pence has been his ‘first choice’ and that he was the man who would help him fix a ‘rigged system’. But in a speech that lasted almost an hour the mentions of his vice president pick was cursory.

As Mr Pence waited in the wings of the stage in Trump Tower, New York, the real estate mogul covered old ground telling the audience that he had ‘looked after veterans’ better than anyone else. He attacked Hilary Clinton, his Democrat rival, as ‘crooked’ and he boasted about the votes he had received in the primary election race.

When the speech ended Mr Trump made no attempt to stop for a photoshoot with the man who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency. His handshake was brief and unsmiling and then he left the stage.

I thought the whole show was a disaster. He bragged about his various successes as an entrepreneur who had the knack of intuition and the only one who could make America great again. He was bombastic to say the least, and rather unconvincing as a future president. The lack of humility was transparent and is likely to put people off.

Trump’s unorthodox campaign, which has been defined by controversy and aggressive rhetoric against minorities, has prompted plans for mass protest in many parts of the country.

Hundreds of groups are gearing up to demonstrate for or against the likely Republican nominee. His nominations will in the circumstances be a torrid affair but hopefully without any casualties.


Having owned a wine company in Bristol in the mid ’70s I became obviously a bit of a connoisseur of the wine industry, to the extent that in the early ’90s I went mad and decided to have my own vineyard in the Dordogne where I had a summer house. Discovering that the part of the land that surrounded the property was once a vineyard encouraged me to dream big and envisage having my own wine label, which I did. The exercise was reasonably successful for 3 years, but the quality of the wine was not what I wished it to be for the earth was not very conducive to the enormity of my dream.

However, my interest in wine remains to this day but more theoretically-based than consumptively, for I drink very little. I was naturally intrigued to read that the company behind Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon has launched what it hopes will be the first world-class red wine to be produced in China. The £175-a-bottle red is already seen as a new hope for China’s high-end wine makers, who are desperate to raise their profile overseas after a loss of business at home as a result to President Xi Jinping’s 4-year war on corruption.

The premium wine comes from a rural backwater, nestled 8,900 feet above the Mekong on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, in the country’s south-west, thousands of miles from China’s traditional wine regions of Shandong and Ningxia. A grape there has excited experts at Moët Hennessy, which is part of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group and owner of more than 70 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and fashion label Fendi.

‘As soon as I started to study the potential of the vineyards and wines, I knew that this wine would deserve an international audience,’ Moët Hennessy estates and wine’s president, Jean-Guillaume Prats, told the South China Morning Post. Moët Hennessy bosses said they launched the new red – which has been seven years in the making – in response to rising interest from global wine connoisseurs for a top-end product from China, as well as expected demand in the domestic market.

The red blend is called Ao Yun, which translates to ‘roaming cloud’ in Chinese. It has already been widely praised by respected wine experts including Ellen McCoy and Jancis Robinson.

Four villages in Dequin, Yunnan Province, were chosen for the new project after MH asked Australian wine scientist Tony Jordan to find the ideal spot for a quality red. Ningxia, in China’s north was considered too cold in the winter. Shandong, the country’s other major wine region in the north-east, was ruled out because of excessive rain. A total of 24,000 bottles will initially be sold but it is thought that the figure could rise to 50,000 in the next five years.

China boasts the second largest clutch of vineyards in the world by surface area, after Spain, with 799,000 hectares (1.97m. acres) dedicated to growing grapes, according to the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine. But China is struggling to shed its image of being a mass producer of poor quality product. French wine experts have been operating in the country for decades, but local connoisseurs believe the involvement of some of the world’s leading luxury brands can only help China elbow its way to the top table of producers.

I have no doubt that it will, for the Chinese market is huge and the wealthy Chinese who are becoming accustomed to luxury living will multiply in years to come and local demand will subsequently hit the roof. I can’t wait to sample a bottle of Roaming Cloud when it arrives at Fortnum’s,

*Logan Pearsall Smith

A Disaster Waiting to Happen

I was one of the first people who backed Theresa May in her campaign to become leader of the Tory Party and prime minister. So you can imagine my utter surprise at her appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary notwithstanding his vociferous and shabby behaviour throughout the last few months. As the driving force and leader of Brexit, he used every trick in the book to rally people to his cause and further his own ambition to become top dog in order to claim the crown of the departing David Cameron whose job he hankered after for a long time.


He only failed because he was assassinated by Michael Gove at the last minute which compelled him to withdraw from the scene and, in so doing, he gained the sympathy of many people who felt a deep resentment for the way he was side-lined and the manner in which this was done.

I honestly believed he had learned his lesson after this and hoped he would retire for a bit and bide his time once again. However, it was short-lived for as soon as Theresa May announced her candidacy he was quick to back Andrea Leadsom and the rest is history.

Everyone thought he had lost the plot for a second time and his political ambitions were in tatters but the opposite seems to have happened. I know he’s a clever operator and rather popular in some quarters but he is nevertheless a loose cannon whose loyalty is always shaky. He cannot be relied upon to steer an honest course in the political arena.

Theresa May has taken a huge gamble by appointing Boris as foreign secretary for no one could ever guarantee that he would stay the course and stop his manoeuvring to bite the hand that feeds him.

Let’s pray that the new prime minister has not made her first deadly mistake by such a ridiculous and unexpected appointment.


I have always reckoned that when a man is regularly seen in the company of pretty women he’s more likely to become a magnet to other women, A new study has found that women are more drawn to men who surround themselves with a gaggle of attractive women. Their presence apparently gives a man a ‘halo effect’ which confirms he’s suitable dating material, and they need look no further. The effect – known as ‘mate choice copying’ in the animal kingdom – is so strong that in America, so-called ‘wing women’ can be hired to enhance a man’s appeal in bars and clubs.


The study, led by psychologist Dchor Sarah Hill of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, said: ‘Women find men more desirable when they appear to be desired by other women. Women use the presence of a man’s mate as a cue to his own quality. Females observe a romantic or sexual interaction between a male and other females – a model female – and preferentially chose that male as a mate.’

The investigation asked two groups of women their opinion of how attractive they found a man. The first group, of 148 students, were asked to rate how attractive they found a man when he was paired with a sexual partner or with a friend, family member or ex-girlfriend. The participants found he was more desirable when with a sexual partner. 

The second group, of 97 students, were shown a picture of a man alone or with a romantic partner and asked to rate not only his desirability as a partner but how intelligent, trustworthy, humorous, wealthy, romantic, adventurous, generous, and attentive they thought he was. They rated him more highly when he was paired up rather than alone, but also attributed positive qualities to him.

The research has been published recently in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

Although the research has confirmed my hunch that a man frequently engaged and seen in the company of desirable women makes him an easy target to other aspiring females, the reason however is far more complex than this study has found.

I believe a competitive element in the genes of most females plays a crucial part in their desirability. The challenge factor gives women an edge and a self-confidence without which they feel bereft of the benefit and the pleasure of conquest. I suspect they need to boost such yearnings in order to maintain their seductive power. That’s the reason we love them for it…