How to lunch like a rocket scientist
Discover what lies in the lunchboxes of those with the brightest minds and highest-flying careers, then read our nutritionist's take on the health credentials. You might just find your next inspiring midday meal right here, so read on to find out what you might find in the lunchbox of a rocket scientist.
Name: Dr Claire Parfitt
Bio: Claire works as a space systems engineer, meaning she deals with the nuts and bolts of spacecrafts. Her knowledge of science and attention to detail means she needs plenty of mental energy and a high concentration span.
What's in Claire's lunchbox...
"Lunchtimes can be pretty rushed sometimes so it’s quite difficult to eat health on a regular basis - sometimes I do head to the sandwich van! Usually, I try to have a selection of raw crudites like radishes, carrots and sugar snap peas and a small pot of hummus for dipping. I also like a multi-grain salad with couscous, lentils, chickpeas and edamame beans, plus some marinated prawns – all washed down with plenty of tea!"
Our nutritionist's view...
Kerry Torrens says: Claire’s job demands clear, logical thinking, so her diet needs to focus on brain-friendly forms of fuel combined with the right nutrients. Claire’s lunch is packed with beans, pulses and veggies, which contribute well towards her five-a-day and she includes both animal and plant sources of protein, along with some healthy fats. Colourful veggies are packed with antioxidants, helping to protect the brain, and hummus is a good source of protein, fibre and healthy fats, which, as a combination, may help manage appetite and reduce cravings. Protein-rich seafood contains valuable nutrients to help support thyroid function, which is key for energy and keeping tiredness at bay. Oily fish, like salmon, is rich in omega-3 fats, which are important for keeping the heart and brain healthy. Claire should avoid smoked salmon, however, because its high salt content may increase blood pressure – instead she should opt for poached or baked salmon.
Soya beans, lentils and chickpeas are packed with hormone-balancing plant oestrogens, as well as protein and fibre - perfect for digestive health, managing cholesterol and are a great alternative to red meat.
Claire’s liking for a cuppa is not necessarily an unhealthy one. Tea supplies polyphenols that may be protective against heart disease. That said, she should drink her tea away from meals because it may inhibit her absorption of important minerals, like energising iron.
Kerry says: On days when Claire is not including oily fish like the salmon she should consider drizzling a good quality omega-3 rich oil such as chia or flaxseed over her salad, or consider sprinkling over nuts or seeds, such as walnuts or pumpkin seeds. Claire’s preference for vegetables is a healthy one, however, a handful of berries such as blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which are believed to be especially valuable for brain health.