Mike Lean, a Scottish nutritionist, has teamed up with an entrepreneur to produce what they claim are the first nutritionally balanced pizzas.
The pizzas are said to contain 30% of an adult’s guideline daily amount of vitamins and minerals.
They are also said to have a third of the recommended amount of calories, protein and carbohydrate.
The pizzas were created by Mike Lean, of Glasgow University, and businessman Donnie Maclean.
Prof. Mike Lean, of the university’s human nutrition department said the idea was born out of frustration.
He said: “If you go along to a supermarket or a restaurant and buy a meal, then somebody should have thought about it nutritionally.
“We’ve recently studied ready meals produced by the top five supermarkets in Scotland – common foods eaten in huge numbers – and they’re hopelessly unbalanced.
“They contain as much salt as you should have in a whole day or more. They contain as much saturated fat as you should have in a whole day or more. The nutrients we need every day are absent from these meals. Nobody has thought about it. So I got together with Donnie to try to do this.”
Nutritional pizza developed by Prof. Mike Lean and Donald McLean is said to contain 30 percent of an adult's guideline daily amount of vitamins and minerals
Donnie Maclean helped Prof. Mike Lean come up with unusual ways of incorporating more nutrients into a pizza.
He said: “I researched the market and found that seaweed was an interesting new ingredient being used in artisan bread.
“So we used that as a way of reducing the salt level. The sodium content of seaweed is about 3.5% compared to 40% in salt. There’s iodine in there, vitamin B12, all sorts of things. And the flavour is excellent as well.”
Red pepper is also mixed in with the tomato base to give the pizza extra vitamin C. As well as these nutrients, each pizza contains magnesium, potassium, folates and vitamin A.
“The way the guidelines are set out, you have 20% of your nutrients and calories from your breakfast, 30% from your lunch, 30% from your dinner, and an extra 20% for snacks,” said Donnie Maclean, the founder of Eat Balanced.
“We focused on pizza being a lunch or a dinner option. Each pizza gives a complete meal, with all the nutrients in it, for 30% of your day.”
A survey by Mintel suggested seven in 10 British adults eat pizza, with forecasters predicting the market will be worth £1 billion ($1.6 billion) by 2016.
“For a good number of years I have been trying to help people find easy ways to get a balanced diet,” said Prof. Mike Lean, who is also a consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
“The easiest way to do that is to eat nutritionally balanced meals. Three of those a day and you’ve done it, but at the moment commercially prepared meals are not nutritionally balanced.”
One major British supermarket chain has already indicated it will stock the healthy pizzas, and Donald Maclean is in talks with other supermarkets and catering suppliers.
The pizzas will only be available frozen as tests revealed the nutrients were better preserved that way, and Prof. Mike Lean and Donald Maclean said they had to work hard to keep prices down.
“Our pizzas are more expensive than most of the frozen pizzas but on a par with the chilled pizzas,” said Donald Maclean.
“So it shouldn’t be a hard pill to swallow, or a hard pizza to eat.”
The pair now has other junk food classics in their sights.
They are already testing a recipe for a nutritionally balanced curry and, after that, they’re planning to tackle fish and chips.
Scientists say life expectancy is written into our DNA and could be seen from the day we are born.
They have found a way to predict how long someone will live – by measuring their genes as a baby
It all depends on the length of the telomeres, which are described as “acting like the plastic ends on shoelaces” to protect chromosomes from wear and tear.
Telomeres are being studied extensively – and are thought to hold the key to ageing.
The longer your telomeres, the longer you will live – dependent, of course, on not dying accidentally, from disease or from lifestyle factors.
It was known they could be shortened by life choices, including smoking and stress. But this is the first indication that our lifespan might be predetermined from birth.
In the future, tests may allow people to know their expected lifespan from a very early age – if they want to.
Professor Pat Monaghan, who led the Glasgow University study, said: “The results of this research show that what happens in our bodies in early life is very important.
“It is not understood why there are variations of telomere length but if you had a choice, you would want to be born with longer telomeres.
“If you were to test this, I don’t think anyone would want to know – it would just make you miserable. But it must be remembered that how you live has a big effect. This isn’t quite a case of nature overtaking nurture.”
Telomeres are important because they stop DNA from unraveling, but they begin shortening from the moment we are conceived
The study – which used zebra finches, one of Australia’s most common bird species – is the first to measure telomere lengths at regular intervals through an entire life. With people, it is usually only the elderly who are studied because of the timescales involved.
Blood cell samples were taken from 99 finches, starting when they were 25 days old.
The results exceeded even the researchers’ expectations. The birds with the shortest telomeres did tend to die first – from as early as seven months after the start of the trial.
But one bird in the group with the longest telomeres survived to almost nine years old.
Professor Monaghan said: “These birds were dying of natural causes. There were no predators, no diseases and no accidental deaths. This was showing their capacity for long life.”
The results hold huge implications for humans, whose telomeres work in the same way.
Telomeres are important because they stop DNA from unraveling, but they begin shortening from the moment we are conceived.
The longer they are, the better for an individual because when they get too short, they stop working.
DNA is then no longer protected and errors begin to creep in when cells divide. When this happens – usually in middle age – the skin begins to sag and the immune system becomes less efficient. Faulty cells also lead to a growing risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
The university’s institute of biodiversity, animal health and comparative medicine has published its groundbreaking research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
In the next stage of their research, the Glasgow scientists will look at what causes telomeres to shorten – including inherited and environmental factors – to make it possible to predict life expectancy more accurately.