Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 01:11 GMT
Medieval diets 'far more healthy'
Their low-fat, vegetable-rich diet - washed down by weak ale - was far better for the heart than today's starchy, processed foods, one GP says.
And while they consumed more they burnt off calories in a workout of 12 hours' labour, Dr Roger Henderson concludes.
But the Shropshire GP accepts that life for even prosperous peasants was tough.
But after examining the available records, Dr Henderson suggests that medieval meals were perhaps even better than the much touted "Mediterranean" diet enjoyed by the Romans.
While this would have involved fish, fruit, whole grains and olive oil - as well as red wine - the rich often overindulged, while the poor may not always have been able to obtain them.
The average medieval peasant however would have eaten nearly two loaves of bread each day, and 8oz of meat or fish, the size of an average steak.
This would have been accompanied by liberal quantities of vegetables, including beans, turnips and parsnips, and washed down by three pints of ale.
Crucially, there was little refined sugar in their food, while modern eating habits are dominated by biscuits, cake and sweets.