Climate: Eating fruits, vegetables, chips or even sugary drinks is better for health

Climate: Eating fruits, vegetables, chips or even sugary drinks is better for health

Illustrative image of a supermarket in Houston, Texas in July 2022 (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Brandon Bell)

Illustrative image of a supermarket in Houston, Texas in July 2022 (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Brandon Bell)

The researchers hope their study can enable consumers to shop more sustainably without sacrificing anything for their health.

Around 57,000 products sold in supermarkets in the UK and Ireland have been analyzed by scientists in a major study published by the specialist journal PNAS on Monday August 8. It shows in particular that eating fruits and vegetables is

better for the planet

than eating meat and cheese. But chips and sugary drinks also have a very low environmental impact.

The researchers who hope their study can make it possible for consumers

shop more sustainably

without sacrificing their health, also compared their results to the nutritional properties of these foods.

Syrups, lemonades and other fruit juices are among the products sold

lowest environmental impact

– because they consist mainly of water – but theirs

nutritional quality is poor

show the study. However, the researchers believe that in general are also the most durable products

nutritionally best.

Analysis of products with multiple ingredients

This work thus confirms what other studies have already advanced by analyzing individual ingredients (fruit, red meat, etc.). What is new is that the analysis here focuses on this

Products with many ingredients

(sauces, ready meals, etc.).

The task is difficult because of the amount of each ingredient

considered a manufacturing secret

and therefore not very detailed: only about 3% of the more than 57,000 products sold by eight food retailers had a fully quantified composition.

So did scientists

developed an algorithm

to rely on the little known information to assess the proportion of missing ingredients – in the UK and Ireland in particular the components are listed by the amount used.

Four Factors

To assess the impact on the environment,

Four factors were considered:

Greenhouse gas emissions, use of limited water resources, land use and aquatic eutrophication (water pollution).

Bread, but also certain cereals, certain ready meals or desserts (cakes, biscuits, etc.) pollute the environment

relatively low or medium.

On the other hand, fish, cheese and meat, especially red meat (lamb, beef) have an effect

strong influence.

“Replacing meat, dairy and eggs with plant-based alternatives would have made this possible

great benefits for the environment”,

Note the authors of the study.

but

smaller transitions

can also help. For example, beef lasagne could be replaced with chicken or pork lasagne, or even vegetarian, with a high environmental impact.

In the future, it would help to know better the dosages and origin of the different ingredients

determine more precisely

their impact on the environment, the researchers note.