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To decrease your environmental footprint, try eating healthier, study says

Study Says Vegans May Outlive Us All Published in The Journal of Nutrition, a study conducted of 840 people eating five different diets found that vegans had the healthiest results. Study participants gave blood, urine and fat samples which were then examined by scientists for various biomarkers. The study found that vegans had the highest levels of an antioxidant called carotenoids, which has been found to decrease the risk of disease. This is presumably because vegans consumed more vegetables and fruits

Research indicates that eating nutritious food is not only better for you, it’s also better for the environment

We all know the benefits of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods for our physical health. But new research indicates nutritious foods are also better for the environment.

The research from the University of Minnesota found that a widespread shift to healthier diets would substantially reduce the environmental impact of food production.

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Foods with both positive health benefits and low environmental impact include fruits, whole grains, vegetables and nuts.

On the contrary, foods with higher disease risks, like red meat, were harmful both to the health of consumers and to the environment.

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"This study shows that replacing red meat with more nutritious options can greatly improve health and the environment," said researcher Jason Hill. "It's important that all of us think about the health impacts of the foods we eat. We now know that making our nutrition a priority will pay dividends for the Earth, as well.”

The study is in lockstep with recommendations released by the United Nations in August, which called on consumers to eat less meat as a means of helping the environment.

“It would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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The research team from the University of Minnesota based their new study on 15 different food groups and how they were associated with five different health outcomes and five aspects of environmental impact.

"Normally, if a food product is good for one aspect of a person's health, it's better for other health outcomes, as well. The same holds for environmental outcomes,” researcher David Tilman said.

Red meat, such as beef and pork had the greatest level of negative environmental impact, the researchers found.

A couple exceptions:
- Fish, while generally seen as a healthier food option, had a higher negative environmental impact that other healthy foods

- Sugar-sweetened beverages did not have a high environmental impact, but are associated with health risks