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As Seen on TEDx

Eating Years off Your Life, and CREATING More Sustainability

Eating Years off Your Life, and CREATING More Sustainability

“Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life, while choosing to eat a serving of nuts instead could help you gain 26 minutes of extra healthy life, according to a new study.”


A study published in the Journal Nature Food in 2021 assessed 5,800 foods for their impact on contributing to chronic disease as well as damaging the environment.

Foods with a positive score add healthy minutes of life while foods with a negative score damage our health. The environmental impact took into consideration the production, processing, preparation and waste.


The food ratings were then given one of three colors, red (worst), yellow or green (best) based on their combined nutritional and environmental impact.


The foods in the green zone were largely nuts, fruits field grown vegetables (as opposed to greenhouse grown), legumes and some seafood. The foods in the red zone were primarily those based on processed meats for their negative health effects and beef, pork and lamb for their environmental effects. (You can add all forms of junk food and beverages with high sugar to the red zone for their negative health effects too.)


The article abstract ends with the sentence: “Our analysis also indicated that substituting only 10% of daily caloric intake from beef and processed meat for fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and selected seafood could offer substantial health improvements of 48 min (of healthy lifespan) gained per person per day and a 33% reduction in dietary carbon footprint.” That is a pretty powerful statement.


It supports the truth that our health is interconnected and interdependent with the health of our planet and every one of us can make a difference in both.


So next time you choose to buy or eat the healthy “green” foods you can know that you are adding years to your life, life to your years and decreasing your dietary carbon footprint significantly, and that is if you only substitute 10% of your caloric intake. I bet we can do even better than that!


Think about this the next time you are in the grocery store or planning your meals for the week and let’s all make a communal difference in our health and the health of our planet together.


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