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Your Healthy Magazine


Page 36 Puchero. by Suzanne Laurie Bsc (Hons) Nutritional Therapist MBANT


Rather than focusing on a single food this month the cold weather has inspired me to write about an entire dish, as it has got me through some cold evenings recently. So this month is Puchero month! Puchero is a meat and vegetable stew that can only be described as peasant food and is a good old Spanish favourite in the winter months. Every region has its own version, and indeed in my village it seems every family has their own take on this classic. However you prefer to make it though, not only is it brilliant comfort food but it has a reputation as the Spanish equivalent to chicken soup – a bit of a cure all when you’re not feeling up to scratch. In fact, a Spanish friend of mine loves to recount stories of his mum making him puchero for fiesta nights so he could come home half way through a fiesta more than a little worse for wear, tuck into a hearty bowl of puchero to help him party until dawn.


So could puchero really be a health miracle in a bowl. Well, puchero does offer a stack of useful nutrients from the mix of meat and vegetables it contains that may well help bolster the immune system. Sipping hot nutritious soups/ stews does increase the speed of nasal secretions (AKA a runny nose) so can be great for clearing a blocked nose and relieving symptoms. They are also very easy to get down when the throat is raw and the appetite is poor. Certainly, malnutrition impairs the immune system, and feeding can stimulate and enhance immune responses to viruses. Puchero may also be a particularly good choice as the meat contained in the stew is naturally high in zinc, especially the bones and carcass that are used to make the broth. Zinc is well known for boosting the immune system. Meat also contains high levels of carnosine, a natural antioxidant. Puchero traditionally contains numerous vegetables all of which are cooked directly in the stew so the nutrients they contain will remain in the stew rather than being thrown away in cooking water.


And then there is the good old placebo effect. Psychological stress is a common cause of immune underfunction and general lethargy. This can lead to opportunistic bugs taking hold.


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