Clipped from www.guardian.co.uk

Scientists are examining the comforts of chocolate and the benefits of fish – and the relationships are more complicated than you might think, writes Robin McKie

Young woman with pomegranate

"Foods to be avoided: beefe, venison, hare, heavy wines, cabbage, fresh-water fish." With these words the 17th-century Oxford don Robert Burton outlined – in The Anatomy of Melancholy – his recipe for avoiding depression and achieving mental wellbeing. What you ate determined your happiness and soundness.

Hare was to be shunned with particular vigour, he argued. It is “hard of digestion, breedes incubus… and causeth feerful Dreames. So doth all Venison”. By contrast, lean meats are best, as are “all manner of brothes, pottage, with borage, lettuce and such wholsome herbs are excellent good”. For good measure, “egges are justified, butter and oyle may passe, while… sugar and hony are approved”. Similarly, “the thinnest, whitest, smallest wine is best, not thicke, not strong”.
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