The case for black pudding as a ‘super food’
This past year was the year black pudding – that venerable staple to be found across Europe but know by different names – morcilla in Spain or boudin noir in France – was hailed by food faddists as a ‘super food’.
Generations of butchers, cooks and Irish mammies have always known it to be a good source of nutrition even if they might not have been able to pin down the precise nutritional benefits. That is to say, we’ve always known they contain blood, fat, oatmeal and seasonings and that they date back to long before refrigeration so had a useful shelf-life.
But these days we know those benefits include protein, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc…and very, very few carbohydrates.
For foodies it means black pudding can join the likes of blueberries, quinoa and kale, broccoli and spinach as a so-called superfood rich in antioxidants.
In parts of England black pudding’s principal ingredient has long been acknowledged head on as it is known simply as blood pudding. It is the blood, usually pigs’ blood, which makes it a rich source of iron.
White pudding has all the same ingredients except for the blood, and that’s the difference.
A portion of two slices weighs around 60g-120g. From 100g you get around 12mg of iron.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for an adult male is usually 9mg a day but women of childbearing age need more and are often prone to be deficient in iron. Therefore black pudding a rich and easily absorbed source of iron for those in need of a boost even if some of the iron is lost in cooking.
Then, of course, there’s the magnesium, zinc, calcium, and protein. Most of us in developed countries probably consume one and half to twice as much protein as we strictly require so could not be said to be deficient. But factor that in to a balanced diet and the case for black pudding is strong.
The next bit is where provenance and a decent butcher or provider comes in. The fat content of black puddings varies according to the maker with some containing less than 3g/100g and others up to 22g.
While it is now recognized that fat can be healthy and essential to a diet it is also known that saturated fats have been linked by some studies to to heart disease.
High salt content, too, can be extremely unhealthy and bad for blood pressure.
In Ireland where people are becoming more and more aware – often through direct personal experience or through family members – of the need for heart health, butchers have been working to reduce the salt and fat content of black puddings while retaining the flavour and texture.
Depending, of course, on its provenance well made black pudding can lay claim to being a less processed meat product than its long-time companions – bacon and sausages. As with so many of the best things in life it should be enjoyed in moderation.