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Can relatively small changes in food choice translate to both health and environmental benefits?

Can relatively small changes in food choice translate to both health and environmental benefits? The answer is “yes” according to a recent study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health  entitled “Small targeted dietary changes can yield substantial gains for human and environmental health”.  The researchers developed a nutritional index that ranked over 5,800 foods by minutes gained or lost off healthy life per serving – with processed meats and sugary drinks cutting the most time.  In their analysis, substituting a wide variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans added minutes. The rankings also considered environmental impacts and classified individual foods into color-coded categories analogous to a traffic light with green foods having more nutritional and environmental beneficial effects, yellow more moderate, and red indicating foods that compromise nutrition, health, and the environment.  Interesting approach and concept.  A summary of the study with can be found here.  Also, a 20 minute presentation from the lead researcher,  Olivier Jolliet, entitled "Healthy and Sustainable Foods:  Do We All Need to Become Vegan?" (short answer "no" according to Jolliet) is worth the watch.  Drastic and generally unrealistic dietary approaches likely not warranted to see nutritional, health, and environmental impact.  Could generate some great discussion - and likely debate - in the classroom.   🙂

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