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Smart Living | 08 Sep 2020

Eat yourself healthier with these AI-inspired ‘hyperfoods’ recipes

Vodafone Foundation's DreamLab app has helped power scientific research identifying disease-fighting food molecules that have now been turned into 10 tasty recipes in a new 'HYPERFOODS' cookbook.

When you’re sipping your spiced cranberry and orange cocktail and nibbling a moist slice of carrot and parsnip cake, bask in the knowledge that you’re also helping your body to fight disease.

Because these are just two recipes from the new HYPERFOODS cookbook, inspired not by some TV celebrity chef or peddler of the latest faddish diet, but by peer-reviewed scientific research powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

This truly is food for the data-driven, evidence-based 21st Century.

Researchers from Imperial College London have teamed up with Kitchen Theory chef Jozef Youssef and Vodafone Foundation to come up with recipes incorporating ingredients identified as having disease-fighting properties.

It turns about that humble fruit and veg, such as carrots, celery, oranges, grapes, coriander, cabbage, turmeric and dill, contain molecules that actively fight or prevent disease, much in the same way that medical drugs do. You can read the research paper here.

Hyperfoods Cookbook: Egyptian broad beans
Did you know Egyptian broad beans were extra specially healthy for you?

Finding these feisty molecules involved millions of calculations performed by a virtual supercomputer consisting of tens of thousands of mobile phones running Vodafone Foundation’s DreamLab app, mostly overnight as their owners slept.

“This seminal research – and subsequent recipes – are an important step in understanding how we can choose – and cook – food more intelligently to improve our health,” says Mr Youssef, whose London-based design studio has a particular interest in the role of food in healthcare.

The cookbook’s creators believe that not only will roast carrot and chicken skewers with satay sauce be a pleasure to eat, they will also help us lead healthier lifestyles.

And boy, do we need healthier lifestyles.

Health crisis

“We are seeing a continuous growth in chronic conditions, such as cancer, neurological diseases and heart disorders – a key contributing factor is poor diet,” says Dr Kirill Veselkov, lead computational scientist at Imperial College London.

Research suggests unhealthy diets are responsible for a fifth of deaths globally, says Dr Veselkov, and that nearly half of all cancers could be prevented by good dietary and lifestyle choices. Treating obesity costs the National Health Service about £6bn a year.

And the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced such observations, with Public Health England stating that obesity and poor metabolic health “puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19”.

The HYPERFOODS recipes

Hyperfoods Cookbook: Dill and lemon soup with egg drop noodles
Dill and lemon soup with egg drop noodles: Healthy meals don’t have to be boring meals
  • Carrot and parsnip cake
  • Dill and lemon soup with egg drop noodles
  • Egyptian broad beans
  • HYPERFOODS granola
  • Kimchi pancake
  • Roast carrot and chicken skewers with satay sauce
  • Sauerkraut buckwheat pasta bake
  • Spiced cranberry and orange cocktail
  • Tea and orange semifreddo
  • Turmeric spiced hot chocolate

The appliance of science

The relationship between food and disease is a field of study attracting greater attention these days. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US recently announced that it will invest $1.9bn (£1.4bn) a year for the next 10 years to accelerate research into nutrition.

As well as continuing to power cancer research, the DreamLab app is also supporting Imperial College London’s Corona-AI research project into whether foods and pre-existing drug combinations can be used to treat Covid-19.

“Technologies such as AI have the potential to create a smarter healthcare system and improve outcomes for patients,” says Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK’s General Counsel & External Affairs Director, who is also a Vodafone Foundation Trustee.

The HYPERFOODS cookbook is free and available to download here, so why not try out some of the recipes and begin adopting a healthier lifestyle today?

  • Click here for the full HYPERFOODS press release.
  • The DreamLab app has been downloaded 171,000 times in the UK. If you want to contribute to this vital scientific research, download it yourself for free from the Apple Store or Google Play websites.
  • The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity (number 10989625).
  • Follow @VodafoneUKNews on Twitter.

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