Foods with positive health benefits have lower environmental impacts

It turns out that eating healthy is not only good for you, but it can also lessen your impact on the environment. According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of Natural Academy of Sciences journal, certain foods commonly associated with improved health also contribute to a more sustainable global food system.

The seven foods identified include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals, olive oil, legumes, nuts and fish. The study also shows that consuming one additional serving per day of any of these seven foods was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer.

At the other end of the spectrum, researchers found that red meat and processed meat were consistently linked to the largest increase in disease risk while also having the most negative environmental impacts.

These findings are supported by another study published in the same journal that looked at the correlation of climate change and healthy eating. For example, the emissions associated with producing one kilogram of beef are almost eight times higher than those associated with producing the same amount of fish.

Fortunately, what we choose to put on our plates really does make a meaningful difference. Although it may feel small, the daily act of deciding what we eat can have a large ripple effect on the planet. Look for global, science-based certifications like the MSC blue fish label that certifies wild, sustainable and traceable seafood or the ASC label that indicates responsibly farmed seafood. There’s also the Certified Organic label that recognizes production systems that sustain the health of soils and ecosystems.

As the need for climate action intensifies, meeting The UN Sustainable Development Goals and The Paris Agreement targets has never been more vital to our overall wellbeing, the future of our food systems, and the health of the planet. By choosing healthier and more sustainable options, it’s not only a clear win for our bodies, but it also contributes to reducing our carbon footprint and brings us closer to achieving global goals.


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