Ruth Ellis and the hanging that rocked a nation

Ruth Ellis and David Blakely. Blakely is believed to have physically abused Ellis, and may have induced a miscarriage shortly before Ruth shot him – evidence that wasn't considered in her defence. (Bettman via Getty Images)

As 9am approached on 13 July 1955, crowds of people began to line the streets outside Holloway prison. Some stared solemnly at the prison walls. Others prayed. Most fell silent. Inside the prison gates, Ruth Ellis received communion and drank a glass of brandy. Then, as the clock ticked round to the appointed hour, she was led to the execution chamber.

According to the News Chronicle, Ellis “looked on a crucifix for a few seconds before she died”. She was, stated the Daily Mirror, “the calmest woman who ever went to the gallows”. That equanimity wasn’t shared by thousands of people in the country at large. On that grim July morning, Ellis became the last woman to be executed in Britain – and the furore surrounding her fate would resonate for years.

By the time Ellis died, her case had already become a cause celebre. It dominated newspaper front pages, inspired hundreds of Britons to pen letters begging for clemency, and led to a dramatic 11th‑hour appeal for a reprieve.

The Ellis case gave the nation a considerable emotional jolt – and that’s because a huge number of Britons could personally identify with the 28-year-old wife and mother. Labour MP Sydney Silverman, a campaigner for the abolition of the death sentence, encapsulated this sentiment when he wrote in The Star: “She seems to most people a normal human – all too human – being, weak, foolish, hyper-sensitive.”

Under great emotional distress, Ellis “found relief in one passionate, compulsive act of desperation”, which, Silverman added, exemplified “essential human pathos”. The “compulsive act of desperation” to which Silverman referred was the murder of her boyfriend, David Blakely.

Ellis and Blakely were locked in a dysfunctional relationship and by April 1955, Ellis had reached breaking point. On Easter Sunday – distraught at Blakely’s refusal to speak to her – she walked into the Magdala pub in Hampstead, where Blakely was drinking. She was accompanied by Desmond Cussen, a man with whom she had had a brief relationship – and who, fatefully, had given her a gun. Ellis proceeded to use that gun to shoot Blakely twice as he left the pub, before standing over him and shooting him twice more as he lay on the ground. She asked for the police to be called and was arrested by an off-duty policeman who had also been drinking in the Magdala.

Multiple bruises

Police investigations into the killing soon established that Ellis and Blakely’s relationship had been violent. A report in the Home Office file on the case explains that “Blakely sometimes struck Mrs Ellis” and that she had been to hospital after receiving “multiple bruises” from him. Ellis had a miscarriage shortly before the murder, which she believed was caused by Blakely punching her in the stomach. The prosecution did not dispute that Blakely had treated Ellis “disgracefully”, or that this had left her emotionally disturbed. But, crucially, during Ellis’s trial, neither of these facts was deemed sufficient
to reduce the verdict from murder to manslaughter – and the mandatory sentence for murder was death.

Famously, in response to prosecution counsel Christmas Humphreys’ question about what she intended to do when she fired at Blakely, Ellis replied: “It is obvious that when I shot him I intended to kill him.” Yet even without such a bald admission, it would have been extremely difficult for Ellis to secure a verdict other than murder. The law did not recognise Ellis’s experiences of physical and emotional abuse as relevant to her defence – a stark example of how far the legal system failed to accommodate women’s experiences of gendered inequality.

That Ellis would receive a guilty verdict was, then, seemingly inevitable. What turned this case into a cause célèbre was the fact that she went to the gallows. Women were rarely executed in Britain: 90 per cent of those sentenced to death in the 20th century were reprieved. Blakely’s mistreatment of Ellis and her emotional distress seemed to offer good grounds for commuting her sentence, and many people assumed that this would happen. When it didn’t, thousands of Britons were appalled. Among them would have been readers of the Daily Herald which rated her chance of reprieve as “good – much better than evens in cold betting terms”. Such optimism was, no doubt, inspired by the case of Sarah Lloyd, who had murdered her 87-year-old neighbour by hitting her with a spade and pouring boiling water over her. Lloyd was sentenced to death but she did not hang. Her sentence was commuted on 7 July 1955, and there hadn’t even been a petition to save her. The same leniency would not be extended to Ellis.

Savage contradiction

The Daily Herald reported how it was “a moment of tense emotion” when the governor of Holloway, Dr Charity Taylor, had to inform Ellis in her death cell that no reprieve had been granted. The Heraldargued that Ellis would not have been executed in the United States or Germany, and lamented the “savage contradiction to all that is reasonable and gentle in the British character” that the retention of hanging entailed.

The press was not uniformly opposed to Ellis’s execution, but even stories written in support of the home secretary’s decision not to reprieve her highlighted problems with the death penalty. The News Chronicle agreed that Ellis could not receive “special leniency” simply because she was “a woman and an alcoholic”. However, it recommended suspending capital punishment for an experimental period to gauge whether hanging needed to be retained.

So why did Ellis fail to earn a reprieve? Research into the archival case files suggests that the premeditated nature of the murder and the fact that it was committed with a gun counted against her. Ellis’s perceived sexual immorality was also a strong factor in the decision not to commute her sentence. She was not married to David Blakely and a “lenient view” could not be taken when “she was associating with, and receiving money from, another man” (a reference to Desmond Cussen). Failure to meet standards of conventional morality in relation to marriage and monogamy proved fatal for Ruth Ellis.

But, as the press would soon make abundantly clear, the justice system’s unforgiving interpretation of Blakely’s murder was hugely out of step with public opinion. No sooner had the sentence been announced than petitions were being gathered “all over Britain”, according to the Daily Express. The Manchester Guardian explained that these contained “several thousand signatures” and that batches of letters calling for a reprieve were being delivered to the home secretary.

Many of these letters survive in the Home Office files on Ruth Ellis in the National Archives and are an invaluable source of information on the public sentiment about the case. There are more than 600 letters, postcards and telegrams from the public in the Home Office files. Ninety per cent of them call for a reprieve.

Ruth Ellis was the mother of two young children, which was a concern for many letter writers, one of whom highlighted the “lifetime of tragic memory and death” in store for the children if she hanged. Motherhood was an extremely important social identity for women in the 1950s and was the basis from which they could make claims about their citizenship. Several correspondents identified themselves as “a wife and mother myself”.

This personal identification with Ellis was key to the empathy that her case provoked. For many, the circumstances of her crime resonated with contemporary cultural understandings of motherhood and romantic love. Blakely’s murder was widely described as a ‘crime of passion’, and there was a perception that the emotional intensity of Ellis’s love for her boyfriend should be understood as mitigation for her crime. Writing to the home secretary, many members of the public referred to their own unhappy relationships and disappointments in love, with one woman explaining that she “found herself in the same boat as Mrs Ellis”.

Public beatings

Much of the public sympathy for Ellis was fuelled by the violence to which she was subjected at Blakely’s hands. The Woman’s Sunday Mirror ran a ghost-written, serialised life story of Ellis over four weeks. In the instalment published the Sunday before her execution, Ruth explained how she gave Blakely money for cigarettes, food and drink and how he would attack her when he was drunk. She detailed how “he would smack my face and punch me”. On one occasion he “lost all control. His fist struck me between the eyes and I fell to the floor. Savagely he beat me as I lay there.”

Letters from the public argued that Blakely’s brutality had not sufficiently been taken into account at her sentencing. One female correspondent stated: “Only a woman understands that has been in the same position like myself and millions of others beaten by our husbands.”

As for Blakely, he was dubbed a “cad”, “vampire” and “parasite”. His behaviour was judged to have violated mid-20th-century ideals of romantic love which demanded that, as well as providing fulfilment, partners should be co-operative and companionate.

Hanging the wrong man

What made Ellis’s execution more controversial still was that it occurred at a time when the very morality of putting people to death was increasingly being questioned – and when the justice system stood accused of overseeing two high-profile miscarriages of justice.

Nineteen-year-old Derek Bentley was hanged in 1953, despite concerns that he bore little responsibility for the murder of a police officer committed by his younger friend.

That same year, John Christie also went to the gallows, following the discovery of multiple bodies at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill. Christie was guilty. But what made his case so controversial was that, three years earlier, Timothy Evans, a resident of 10 Rillington Place, had been executed for the murder of his wife and baby. Throughout his trial, Evans maintained that John Christie was responsible. It seemed clear that an innocent man had hanged.

These cases propelled the issue of capital punishment firmly into the national consciousness. This was no dry, technical subject debated behind closed doors by men in suits, but one that grabbed the public’s imagination, impacting upon people on an emotional level. The death of Ruth Ellis supercharged that impact.

In the wake of Ellis’s execution, the publisher Victor Gollancz and writer Arthur Koestler launched the National Campaign for the Abolition of Capital Punishment. This sought to both highlight injustice and engage public emotions. In their 1961 book, Hanged by the Neck, Koestler and Cecil Rolph contended that “emotions or inherent feelings can sometimes be a sure guide to what is right”. In doing so, they countered the argument, advanced by Hugh Klare, secretary of penal reform and abolitionist group the Howard League, that “rational penal policy ought not to be affected by sentiment”.

Within two years of Ellis’s death, this heightened public sentiment was reflected in law. The Homicide Act 1957 limited the death penalty by restricting it to certain types of murder. It was a rather compromised piece of legislation but it set the tone for what was to follow in 1965, when Harold Wilson’s Labour government passed the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act. The last hangings in Great Britain had taken place a year earlier.

Such changes are not brought about by one person’s case. But, for all that, Ruth Ellis remains a highly significant figure – both in shining a light on the long road to abolition and reflecting capital punishment’s impact on Britons’ emotional lives in the 1950s.

Timeline: the death of capital punishment

1868 The Capital Punishment (Amendment) Act ends public hanging

1923 Edith Thompson and Freddy Bywaters are executed for the murder of Edith’s husband amid doubts about her culpability and rumours that her hanging was botched

1930 A report from the Select Committee on Capital Punishment recommends an experimental five-year period of abolition, but this is not debated in parliament

1948 Capital punishment is suspended between February and November during debates on a Criminal Justice Bill. But a Criminal Justice Act passes without an abolition clause

1949 A Royal Commission on Capital Punishment examines whether eligibility for the death penalty should be limited or modified. It doesn’t report until 1953

1953 Derek Bentley is hanged in January amid public concerns about justice in his case. John Christie is executed in July that same year, raising doubts about the guilt of Timothy Evans, who was hanged in 1950

1957 The Homicide Act is passed, limiting capital punishment to certain types of murder, widening the provocation defence and introducing the diminished responsibility defence

1964 On 13 August, Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged – the last judicial execution to take place in Britain

1965 The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act ends capital punishment for murder, initially for five years, and is made permanent in 1969

 1998 Capital punishment is abolished for treason and piracy with violence
This article was first published in the February 2018 issue of BBC History Magazine(Lizzie Seal is a reader in criminology at the University of Sussex. Her books include Capital Punishment in 20th-Century Britain: Audience, Justice, Memory (Routledge, 2014)


Spotlight on… heart disease

Coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer in the UK today. While some risk factors are non-modifiable, there are many lifestyle choices you can make that can help to keep your heart healthy. Nutritionist Jo Lewin explores the effect different foods have on heart health and suggests recipes to help you on your way…

A red heart-shaped bowl with a knife and fork

We are repeatedly told that eating a balanced diet can improve our health, both now and in the future. Diet plays an important role in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight can also help keep blood pressure within the normal range.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease or cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes all diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) heart failure and stroke. CHD and stroke may be caused by the process of atherosclerosis, which happens when the arteries (that supply the heart and brain with oxygen-rich blood) become narrowed by a gradual build up of fatty material within their walls. In time, the arteries may become so narrow that they cannot deliver enough oxygenated blood to the heart muscle when it needs it. The pain or discomfort that this can cause is called angina. A heart attack can cause permanent damage and happens when a narrowed coronary artery becomes blocked by a blood clot, so oxygenated blood cannot reach the heart. A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain or when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain – starving brain cells of oxygenated blood.

What causes heart disease?

There are certain things about you and your lifestyle that can increase your risk. Risk factors that you can do something about include:

Risk factors that you can’t control include:

  • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Your ethnic background
  • Your age – the older you are, the more at risk you are of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Your sex – research shows that men are more likely to develop CHD at an earlier age than women

Food for a healthy heart

Get your five-a-day

A brightly coloured rainbow tuna salad

Eating a diet rich in a range of fruits and vegetables can help to lower the risk of heart disease. Fruit and vegetables are full of vitaminsminerals, fibre and other nutrients, all of which may play a role in helping to reduce our risk of coronary heart disease in different ways. Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned or dried fruit and vegetables along with beans, pulses and 100%, unsweetened juice (not from concentrate) all count. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.

Recipe suggestions – get on your way to five-a-day:
Tuna rainbow salad
Shredded green salad
Red lentil & squash dahl

Fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and potassium, a mineral that may help to control blood pressure and regulate your heartbeat. Fruit, green leafy vegetables and root veg are also rich in folate, which is essential for the formation of blood cells and helps control the level of a compound called homocysteine in the blood. There is growing evidence that people with high levels of homocysteine may have a higher risk of CHD.


The message regarding this macronutrient is clear. Keep saturated fat within Reference Intakes (RI) or guideline daily amounts and focus on heart-friendly fats. Heart-friendly fats include the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds (and their oils) and oily fish. Cut down on pastries, crisps and biscuits and eat more fruit and vegetables.

Saturated fat is frequently vilified as it is linked to cardiovascular disease. Red meat, butter, cheese, burgers and sausages, are high in saturated fat, as are ghee, coconut and palm oils. A diet high in saturated fat can increase blood fats including triglycerides as well as increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. However, recent studies are now suggesting that the saturated fats in certain foods such as those in dairy products including cheese, do not appear to be as harmful as once thought. This may be because other nutrients in dairy, like calcium, may modify the effects on blood fats such as triglycerides.

Recipe suggestions – fill up on healthy, unsaturated fats:
Avocado salad
Broccoli lemon chicken with cashews
The health benefits of nuts

Oily fish

A super healthy salmon salad dish with couscous

Aim to eat two portions of fish a week, at least one of which should be oily. Oily fish provides the richest source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats that can help lower blood triglyceride levels. Eating oily fish regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Choose oily fish such as herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, salmon and trout.

Recipe suggestions – heart-healthy fish suppers:
Tangy trout
Super healthy salmon salad
Grilled mackerel with soy, lime & ginger

If you don’t like oily fish, there are some vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats that you can include in your diet. These include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, rapeseed and walnuts. The type of omega-3 fats in these foods is a less potent form than you find in oily fish, so you will need to eat them regularly.


Fibre can also help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream. Try to include, porridge oats, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables. They are all high in soluble fibre, which can help lower cholesterol. A high fibre diet also helps fill you up, making you less likely to snack on fattening foods.

Recipe suggestions – high-fibre favourites:
Vegetable & bean chilli
Courgette, pea & pesto soup
Apple & blueberry bircher


Asparagus soldiers with a soft boiled egg

Try to reduce the amount of salt you eat as regularly eating too much is linked to raised blood pressure. On average, people in the UK are eating more salt than they need. It is recommended that adults have no more than 6 grams of salt a day. That is about one teaspoonful.  Don’t add salt to your food at the table and try to use herbs, garlic, spices or lemon juice to add flavour.

Salt is hidden in foods such as packet/canned products, instant noodles, soups, ketchups, sauces and salty savoury snacks, as well as the everyday foods we eat like bread and breakfast cereals, so it’s important to use nutritional information on the front or back of packs to make low salt choices. Many everyday foods such as bread and cereals contain a lot of salt too.

Recipe suggestions – slash the salt in all your meals:
Low-salt breakfast recipes
Low-salt lunches
Low-salt dinner ideas
Processed foods

Often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, processed foods can pose a quandry when trying to eat healthily. Try cooking from scratch, using basic, fresh and if possible, seasonal ingredients. Also check food labels.


It is important to stick to recommended limits for alcohol – 14 units a week. Avoid binge drinking and if you do over indulge, avoid alcohol for the following 48 hours.  Alcohol is also high in calories and even a small amount can increase your appetite and so can be linked to weight gain. For more information on healthy drinking habits, visit

For more information visit…

The British Heart Foundation
The Stroke Association
Diabetes UK

More ways to keep your heart healthy…

The best heart-healthy recipes
What to eat for a healthy heart
Top 10 tips for a healthy heart
Heart-healthy portions
More health and nutrition tips

This article was last reviewed on 27th September 2017 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

A registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.


Spotlight on… diabetic diets

A healthy, balanced diet is key to keeping your blood sugar levels in check and your diabetes under control…

A woman taking a blood sugar reading

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition caused by a failure of the blood sugar regulation mechanism in the body. This is controlled by a hormone called insulin. Diabetes results when the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin or cells of the body become resistant to insulin so blood sugar levels are not controlled as they should be. Without the proper function of insulin, sugar cannot enter muscle or fat cells, causing serious secondary complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, neuropathy and other complications.

How many types of diabetes are there?

Recent research has suggested that diabetes could be seen as five separate diseases, with the potential for treatment to be tailored to each of the different forms. The study was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology and looked at 14,775 Scandinavian patients. However, while experts saw the results as promising, they cautioned that further research would be necessary before changes could be made to treatment.

The NHS still classifies diabetes in two types.

Type 1 diabetes

Insulin dependent, less common and usually develops before the age of 30.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. The exact cause is unknown but some believe that it is an autoimmune response in which the body attacks its own pancreatic cells. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin for life.

Type 2 diabetes

Non-insulin dependent, used to be most common in later life but is becoming increasingly more prevalent in younger generation largely due to an increase in obesity.

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but either it is not producing enough or the body does not respond to it properly. The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity. In many cases, Type 2 diabetes can be avoided through eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise and often can be controlled in the same way if diagnosed. However, some cases will require medication and your doctor should be the one to determine whether this is necessary.

Recent research has reported interesting evidence to support the reversal of type 2 diabetes. Research funded by Diabetes UK and performed by a team at Newcastle University reported that type 2 diabetes can be reversed by an extremely low-calorie diet (600 kcals per day).

This diet is extreme and Diabetes UK strongly recommends that such a drastic diet is only undertaken under professional medical supervision. People with diabetes who want to lose weight should consult their GP before undertaking any new eating plan.

…a note on gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy, when some women have slightly higher than normal levels of glucose in their blood and their body cannot produce enough insulin to transport it all into the cells.

Read more from the NHS on gestational diabetes.

A pregnant woman next to a bowl of salad


Symptoms of diabetes can include tiredness, thirst, frequent urination and skin infections. A full list of symptoms can be found at Diabetes must always be controlled under the management of a doctor. For further advice and information see:

Health implications

People with diabetes of either Type 1 or 2 have a higher chance of developing a range of health conditions including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, circulation problems, nerve damage and damage to the kidneys and eyes. If you are overweight then losing this excess weight healthily and steadily can have a very positive effect on blood sugar levels and can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It’s also particularly important to build up a good exercise routine as this will help the body maintain good blood sugar levels.

Food choices for diabetics

Dietary modification is fundamental to the successful management of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, though making sensible choices will mean you can continue to enjoy a wide range of foods. It’s imperative that weight is kept within the normal range. The dietary guidelines are very similar to those recommended for a healthy lifestyle: eat less sugar and fat, include more fibre-rich starchy foods and more fruit and vegetables with moderate amounts of meat, fish, milk and dairy. Choosing the right foods can make a big difference and eating regularly helps to ensure blood sugar levels do not fluctuate too much.

A magnifying glass and a calculator next to food nutrition labels

Foods to eat

– Starchy carbohydrates provide energy and help maintain and control blood glucose levels so should factor in every meal, though portion sizes and carb intake should be discussed with a dietitian to ensure you are eating to your individual needs. Look for wholemeal or wholegrain breads, high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta and brown rice.

– Fibre can slow the rate at which the starch and sugar in foods enter the bloodstream. It can also help manage cholesterol levels as part of a balanced diet. This kind of soluble fibre is found in oats, pulses, fruit and vegetables.

– Whether you are taking insulin or not, stick to low GI foods (see below for suggestions).

– Magnesium, chromium, zinc and vitamin B3 all help to stabilise blood sugar. Eat plenty of green vegetables, whole grains, dairy foods, brewer’s yeast, seafood and pulses to ensure adequate amounts of these micronutrients.

– Maintain your hydration levels with water, herbal teas etc. but avoid squash and sugary drinks.

Foods to avoid

– Diabetes is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease so the same heart friendly healthy eating principles apply. See our Spotlight on heart disease article.

– If you decide to drink alcohol, avoid drinking more than the recommended amount, and never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Men and women are advised not to reguarly drink more than 14 units a week. Depending on the amount you drink, alcohol can cause either high or low blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia). Drinking alcohol may also affect your ability to carry out insulin treatment or blood glucose monitoring, so always be careful not to drink too much.

– Minimise refined carbohydrates and enjoy low GI foods instead.

Moderate your intake of the following:

  • Over-ripe bananas
  • Fruit yogurts and desserts high in sugar
  • Fruit juices
  • Dried figs & dates
  • White bread, baguettes and bagels
  • Cream crackers & white rice cakes
  • Iced cakes & pastries
  • Scones, crumpets and waffles
  • Sweet pies
  • Fruit canned in syrup
  • Breakfast cereals containing sugar
  • Baked & mashed potatoes and chips
  • White rice
  • Corn & rice pasta
  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • High sugar jams & jellies
  • Crisps and other potato & corn snacks
  • Fruit drinks containing added sugar
  • Fizzy drinks containing sugar
  • Sweets & chocolate bars
  • Thickened soups
  • Table sugar
  • Ice cream containing glucose syrup or high levels of other sugars

Three cans of fizzy drinks next to lots of sugar cubes

Swap these higher GI foods… For these lower GI foods
Refined sugary cereal Oatmeal porridge, All bran or muesli
White bread sandwiches Whole grain/granary bread sandwiches
White rice Basmati rice, wholegrain rice
Biscuits/cookies Small handful of nuts
Sugary fizzy drinks Water
Sweets/sugar candy Raw vegetable sticks with cheese or low-GI fruit
Milk chocolate bar Plain dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa solids)
Jam or marmalade on toast Avocado or nut butter on toast
Curry with rice Curry with chickpeas or lentils
Rice cakes Oatcakes
Pretzels Walnuts

Recipe suggestions

Simple salads to keep those blood sugar levels in check:

Mexican bean salad
Chickpea & roasted pepper salad
Salmon & soya bean salad

Use beans and pulses in chillis and stews and serve with brown rice:

Spicy meatballs with chilli black beans
Lighter cassoulet

Managing your weight can help control Type 2 diabetes. Check out some of our favourite low-fat recipes which don’t compromise on taste:

Zesty haddock with crushed potatoes & peas
Superhealthy Singapore noodles

For further advice or information regarding the diagnosis or management of diabetes please consult your doctor.

This article was last reviewed on 27th September 2017 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

A registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

By Jo Lewin – Associate nutritionist

Wreck of Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Lexington Found 76 Years After It Was Scuttled in Battle


This week, billionaire Paul G. Allen announced that his ship-hunting research vessel R/V Petrel and her crew had discovered an important piece of World War II history. About 500 miles off the coast of eastern Australia and two miles down they located the wreck of the U.S.S. Lexington, one of the United States’ first aircraft carriers, which was scuttled on May 8, 1942, to prevent its capture after the Battle of the Coral Sea, as the Associated Press reports.

Elaina Zachos at National Geographic reports that the Petrel crew had been planning to hunt for the Lexington, known affectionately as “Lady Lex,” for six months after successfully locating several historic wrecks including the Japanese battleship Musashi and the U.S.S. Indianapolis last year. The team received coordinates for where experts thought the Lexington might have sunk. Equipping the Petrel with exploration gear that could reach 3.5 miles under the sea, they began their search. So far, besides locating the ship, the team has been able to find 11 of the 35 aircraft that were onboard when the carrier went under.

Lexington was on our priority list because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII,” Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for the Petrel says in a statement. “Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue. We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”

“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen says in the statement. “As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice.”

The Lexington was not originally commissioned as an aircraft carrier, as Jeanna Bryner at LiveScience points outOriginally, the ship was supposed to be a battlecruiser, but the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty limited battleship construction, so Lexington was re-commissioned as an aircraft carrier, entering service in 1928.

In May 1942, the Lexington was part of the Battle of Coral Sea, which characterizes as the first air and sea battle in history. The Japanese were headed to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, hoping to control the island and cut off access to Australia. Allied forces, however, had intercepted the plans and launched air strikes from carriers when Japan began the invasion. During the ensuing four-day battle, the Japanese light carrier Shoho was destroyed and a larger carrier, Shokaku was severely damaged. The loss of carriers meant Japan did not have enough air cover for their invasion, and they eventually retreated.

The Americans paid a price, too. The carrier Yorktown was heavily damaged. Bryner reports that on May 8, the Lexington was struck by torpedoes and bombs. A secondary explosion onboard led to out of control fires. That night 2,770 personnel were evacuated.The U.S.S. Phelps then launched torpedoes, sinking the carrier so it would not fall into Japanese hands.

In total, 216 crew members of the Lexington were killed in battle.

Back in Massachusetts, a new Essex-class carrier was being built at the same shipyard that the Lexington came from. When they heard the news of the sinking, workers petitioned the Navy to name the new ship after her fallen sibling. The new U.S.S. Lexington served throughout World War II and was not decommissioned until 1991. It is now docked in Corpus Christi, Texas, where it functions as a museum.

There is no word yet on whether the Petrel will recover any artifacts from the Lexington, but knowing where it rests is a comfort to many. “As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the “Lady Lex,” sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea,” Navy Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command, says in the statement. “We honor the valor and sacrifice of the “Lady Lex’s” Sailors — all those Americans who fought in World War II — by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us.”

It’s likely this won’t be the last find by R/V Petrel. In 2016, the ship was retrofitted and tasked by Allen to search for historic warships, and there are still many more out there to be found.


Here’s What Happens When You Eat Nothing But Fruit for a Week

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Alzheimer’s researchers win brain prize

Alzheimer's disease brain compared to normalImage copyright  SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image captionAlzheimer’s disease brain (left) compared to normal (right)

Four dementia scientists have shared this year’s 1m Euro brain prize for pivotal work that has changed our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.

Profs John Hardy, Bart De Strooper, Michel Goedert, based in the UK, and Prof Christian Haass, from Germany, unpicked key protein changes that lead to this most common type of dementia.

On getting the award, Prof Hardy said he hoped new treatments could be found.

He is donating some of his prize money to care for Alzheimer’s patients.

Much of the drug discovery research that’s done today builds on their pioneering work, looking for ways to stop the build-up of damaging proteins, such as amyloid and tau.

Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect 50 million people around the world, and none of the treatments currently available can stop the disease.

Path to beating Alzheimer’s

Prof Hardy’s work includes finding rare, faulty genes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

These genetic errors implicated a build-up of amyloid as the event that kick-starts damage to nerve cells in Alzheimer’s.

Profs Hardy and De StrooperImage copyright  MICHELLE ROBERTS
Image captionProfs Hardy and De Strooper discussed how they would spend the prize money

This idea, known as the amyloid cascade hypothesis, has been central to Alzheimer’s research for nearly 30 years.

Together with Prof Haass, who is from the University of Munich, Prof Hardy, who’s now at University College London, then discovered how amyloid production changes in people with rare inherited forms of Alzheimer’s dementia.

How one woman and her family transformed Alzheimer’s research

Prof Goedert’s research at Cambridge University, meanwhile, revealed the importance of another damaging protein, called tau, while Prof De Stooper, who is the new director of the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL, discovered how genetic errors that alter the activity of proteins called secretases can lead to Alzheimer’s processes.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Our congratulations go to all four of these outstanding scientists whose vital contributions have transformed our understanding of the complex causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The fact that three of these researchers work in the UK reflects the country’s position as a global leader in dementia research.”

Prof Hardy said he would be donating around 5,000 euros of his share of the 1m euros from the Lundbeck Foundation to help campaigns to keep Britain in the EU, and called Brexit a “unmitigated disaster” for scientific research.

He also pledged his thanks to all the people with Alzheimer’s who, over the years, have volunteered to help with dementia research.