The 10 Most Healthy & Environmentally Friendly Foods

January 21, 2020

The 10 Most Healthy & Environmentally Friendly Foods

The 10 Most Healthy & Environmentally Friendly Foods

Why would a wildlife conservation organization be involved in a campaign to push people to diversify their diets? Well, not surprisingly, what we humans choose to eat is very much linked to preserving wildlife—as well as improving many other issues. In this article, we are going to go over the top 10 most healthy and environmentally friendly foods. This was the primary topic at a recent conference in Paris, where the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fundand Knorr Foods teamed up to launch their campaign and their report, titled "Future 50 Foods: 50 Foods for Healthier People and a Healthier Planet." The WWF's David Edwards says "We have to address the drivers of habitat loss and species collapse...and the biggest driver is global farming."

The report acknowledges that 75 percent of the food we eat comes from only twelve, yes twelve plant sources and five animal sources. Three of the plant sources include rice, corn, and wheat, which make up more than 60 percent of our entire food supply. This reliance on so few crops leads to monoculture farming, which is the repeated harvesting of a particular crop. This can potentially cause nutrient loss in the soil and lead to a need for chemical fertilization and pesticides. 

The following food groups recommended for a healthier planet and diet meet a very specific criteria. They are highly nutritious, have as little impact on the environment as possible, are affordable, accessible, and of course, are delicious (or at least tolerable). Also, not surprisingly, due to the specific criteria, no animal-based products made the list. Go figure. 

1. Algae

Algae

According to the report, algae is responsible for nearly half the oxygen production on our entire planet.

  • Algae is filled with fatty acids and plant proteins. Best examples include seaweed, laver, wakame. 

2. Beans and Legumes

The 10 Most Healthy & Environmentally Friendly Foods

  • Referred to as “environmental superheroes”
  • Rich in fiber, protein, and B vitamins
  • Examples include adzuki beans, black beans, fava beans, bambara beans, cowpeas, lentils, marmara beans, and mung beans.

3. Cacti

Cacti is healthy and an environmentally friendly food

  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Can be eaten cooked or raw

Best Example: Nopales (Prickly Pear)

4. Grains

Grains are one of the most environmentally friendly foods

The report cites cereals and grains are the most important source of food for human consumption. The report strongly urges us to diversify our grains to maintain biodiversity. Best Examples include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, fonio, quinoa, and wild rice.

5. Vegetable-Like Fruits

Peppers and an environmentally friendly food and are healthy too

Tomatoes and peppers are common examples. 

  • Full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals for a nutritious boost to any meal

Examples include squash, eggplant, okra, and, orange tomatoes.

6. Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens are an environmentally friendly food

  • Some of the most nutritious foods on the planet
  • Grown extensively all across the world

Examples include broccoli, spinach, kale, red cabbage, and watercress.

7. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are healthy and are great for the environment

  • Great meat substitute
  • Easily grown in harsh environments
  • High in Vitamin D and protein

Best Examples include enoki, portobello, shiitake, maitake, and cremini.

8. Nuts and Seeds

nuts and seeds

  • Rich heart-healthy fats 
  • Environmentally stable 
  • Great source of protein 
  • Delicious

Examples include flax seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.

9. Root Vegetables 

Carrots are one of the most environmental friendly foods

  • High in healthy carbs and fiber 
  • Rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals

Best Examples include carrots, beets, winter radishes, and parsley root

10. Sprouts

Sprouts on sushi

While sprouts have caused a few health scares in the past, the report says the added nutritional value they offer outweighs the potential risks associated with their consumption.

  • Rich in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins C & K
  • Can help control blood sugar levels

Best Examples include alfalfa sprouts, sprouted kidney beans, and sprouted chickpeas. 

The 10 Most Healthy & Environmentally Friendly Foods Overall

  • 75 percent of the food we eat comes from only twelve, plant sources, and five animal sources.
  • Three of the plant sources include rice, corn, and wheat, which make up more than 60 percent of our entire food supply.
  • The foods we mentioned above are all highly nutritious, have as little impact on the environment as possible, are affordable, accessible, and of course, are delicious (or at least tolerable).



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