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Plant foods are good for health and the environment

Plant foods are good for health and the environment


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Positive effects of plant foods on health and the environment

Numerous scientific studies have shown how positive a predominantly plant-based diet can have on health. Plant-based foods are also significantly better for the environment than animal-based ones. Researchers from Great Britain and the USA have now confirmed this in a study.

New analyzes by researchers from the University of Oxford (UK) and the University of Minnesota (USA) have identified a number of “win-win” foods that both improve human health and have little impact on the environment. Their results were published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS).

Environmentally harmful foods increase the risk of illness

As the University of Oxford wrote in a statement, foods that are associated with improved health (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats such as olive oil) have the least impact the environment. Food with the greatest negative environmental impact - unprocessed and processed red meat - has consistently been associated with the greatest increase in disease risk.

The exceptions were fish, a healthy food with a moderate environmental impact, and high-sugar processed foods that may be harmful to health but have a relatively minor environmental impact. Red meat (pork, beef, mutton and goat meat) and processed meat had the greatest environmental impact of all foods and were also associated with the greatest increase in the risk of disease.

Other foods from animal sources, such as milk and poultry meat, had a moderate environmental impact and little impact on disease risk compared to other foods.

Protect health and the environment through better nutrition

The main author Dr. Michael Clark of the University of Oxford says the results could help consumers make better decisions by giving them an understanding of how different foods affect health and the environment. And it could enable policy makers to adopt more effective nutrition guidelines.

"Nutrition is a major cause of poor health and environmental damage," said Dr. Clark. "If we continue to eat as we do, we will endanger societies from chronic diseases and the deterioration of the world's climate, ecosystems and water resources."

And further: “A better and more sustainable diet is one of the most important ways to improve people's health and protect the environment. How and where a food is made also has an impact on the environment, but to a much lesser extent than the choice of food. ”

Replace meat and dairy products with vegetable foods

To arrive at their results, the researchers analyzed data from a collection of large epidemiological cohort studies. They looked at how consuming an additional portion of 15 foods a day with five health consequences (all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and colon cancer) in adults and five aspects of agricultural environmental degradation (greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use) , Water pollution and acidification potential for the environment).

"The study complements the growing body of evidence that replacing meat and dairy products with a selection of plant foods can improve both your health and the health of the planet," said co-author Dr. Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


Video: A Plant-based Diet Changed My Life. Pat McAuley. TEDxBabsonCollege (September 2022).


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