Every week, we make hundreds of meal decisions based on factors such as accessibility, flavor, health, affordability, and novelty. This isn’t a list of foods to eat or stay away from; rather, its information to help you make those judgments.
Take a peek at the right-hand graph. You might be surprised to hear that, despite their health benefits, some of your favorite foods have the greatest environmental impact. It doesn’t mean you have to fully give up avocados or chocolate (imagine that!), but it will assist you in making healthier nutritional choices.
There is one clear message, though: food that is both sustainable and nutritious. Your personal health is intrinsically related to the health of the world.
According to a study published in the journal Science, these foods rank first and last in terms of greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain. These rankings take into account land use, emissions at the farm, animal feed, processing emissions for converting items into sellable products, transportation, and food miles, as well as the energy required at retail establishments (such as refrigerators) and emissions from the production of each product’s packaging materials.
Beef and Lamb are examples of red meat
Unsurprisingly, red meats (particularly beef, with lamb a close second) have the highest carbon footprint and negative environmental impact. A kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases and consumes over 900 gallons of water. In addition to its detrimental effects on climate change, eating two servings of red meat per week has been shown to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 3 to 7%.
If you like cheese, you’ll be disappointed to find that it’s second only to red meat as one of the most environmentally damaging foods. This is largely owing to the fact that cheese is heavily reliant on dairy cows, which generate large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with a 25-fold larger global warming impact than carbon dioxide. In terms of health, Harvard researchers showed that dairy fat is not necessarily associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to the same amount of calories from carbohydrates.
According to the study, replacing roughly 5% of daily calories from dairy fat with an equivalent amount of unsaturated fat from vegetables or vegetable oil was linked to a 24% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. “Overall, the findings are consistent with previous dietary recommendations to consume mostly unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats,” says Frank B. Hu, the study’s principal author and a nutrition professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Though chocolate looks to bring only joy to one’s life, its negative influence on the environment may make you hesitate indulging in a bar of this decadent treat. According to the World Economic Forum, “commercial chocolate is destroying rainforests, spewing large volumes of carbon dioxide into our environment, and contributing to climate change.” Aside from the deforestation caused by cocoa bean production, most chocolate bars contain sugar and milk, both of which are harmful to the environment. They can help with blood pressure and cholesterol reduction, which are two elements that contribute to erectile dysfunction medicines like Vidalista and Fildena.
Algae are a nutrient-rich plant that produces half of all oxygen on the world and is crucial to all aquatic environments, according to the WWF’s “The Future 50 Foods” report. The seaweed is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin C, and iodine, as well as antioxidants and protein. According to the WWF, edible seaweed is a “game changer” since it can grow in wide areas of the ocean, can be collected all year, and requires no pesticides or fertilisers.
Beans and Pulses
The WWF praises beans and other pulses like lentils, peas, and chickpeas for their ability to transform nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can utilize. Pulses also rely heavily on “green water,” which is precipitation that is retained in the soil’s root zone before being evaporated, transpired, or absorbed by plants. Beans are high in fiber, protein, and B vitamins, making them a nutritious complement to any diet. A half-cup of cooked beans contains about 7 g of protein, which is about the same as 1 oz. of meat.
According to the WWF, “mushrooms can flourish where many other foods cannot, especially on by-products recycled from other crops.” Furthermore, a two-year study conducted by the Mushroom Council found that growing a pound of mushrooms consumes substantially less water and energy than most other agricultural goods, with an extraordinarily low CO2 emissions rate to boot.