Eating well improves health, and so does the planet. Studies show that proper nutrition also benefits the environment and eco-sustainability.
The studies, presented by the University of Oxford, show how fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains were the best both to avoid diseases and to protect the climate and water resources while eating more red and processed meat causes the most ill health and pollution.
Conversely, some foods are contradictory. Fish is good for health but has a greater environmental impact, while foods rich in sugar have a low impact on the planet but are bad for health.
The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assessed plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, potatoes, refined grains and wholegrain cereals, and sugar-sweetened beverages, and animal-based foods such as raw and processed red meat, chicken, dairy products, eggs and fish. The scientists hope more detailed information will help consumers, policymakers and food companies make better choices.
The leader of the research, Michael Clark, from the University of Oxford, said: «Continuing to eat the way we do threatens societies, through chronic ill health and degradation of Earth’s climate, ecosystems and water resources. Choosing better, more sustainable diets is one of the main ways people can improve their health and help protect the environment».
Professor Tim Benton from the Chatham House thinktank, said that the research «is the most sophisticated analysis to date that brings health and environment together. If we can produce reasonable guidelines of what a healthy and sustainable diet is, and were those guidelines to be adopted, the world and its people would be in a much better place».