“Salt for example, can increase blood pressure. A lot of takeaway food also contains high levels of refined carbohydrate, such as white rice or chips, which quickly raises blood sugar levels and is followed by a crash. High-fat diets are linked to obesity and inflammation. Over time obesity carries health risks including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and it is linked to certain cancers.
“Many takeaways offer little in the way of fibre either, so they are not beneficial for gut health. Processed meat, such as ham or salami, is carcinogenic, and the World Cancer Research Fund recommends avoiding it.”
Chinese takeaways, says Cunningham, are the worst culprits. “There is a lot of sugar and salt in many of the sauces. Even something like egg fried rice is fried in oil, not steamed.”
So is this the end of the takeaway?
The healthier choice
Even the experts accept there are nights when you really can’t be bothered to cook. They agree that if you make smart choices and eat in moderation, you don’t have to be laden with guilt or terrified of an early grave.
Rhiannon Lambert is a registered nutritionist, author of The Science of Nutrition, and founder of Rhitrition. “Choose grilled, baked, steamed or stir-fried dishes that have lean meat, seafood, tofu or beans instead of fatty meat, cheese or cream and also that have vegetables, whole grains, salad or fruit,” she says. “Tomato-based sauces are better than creamy ones.”
Rotating between cuisines so you are not always having the unhealthiest option and watching the amount of alcohol and fizzy drinks you have with your food are good ideas, says Lambert. “Even a plain portion of chips and gravy can be healthier if you opt for the thick chip shop version rather than thin French fries, which absorb more oil, and add some fibre by having them with baked beans or cooking your own peas instead of ordering mushy peas.”