You know that eating certain foods are great for your health, like these 7 leafy green veggies you can conveniently drink and have delivered right to your home. But what you might not realize is the length of time that eating certain foods can prolong your life, in minutes. And on the flip side, if we knew that having a cheat meal would rob our lifespan by “X” minutes, maybe we’d have an easier time thinking twice about eating fast food.
But thanks to researchers at the University of Michigan, we can do just that. The researchers evaluated almost 6,000 different types of foods and ranked them by their potential to create disease in humans. The neat thing about their research, which was published in the journal, Nature, is that each food had a corresponding length of time that the food either added to or subtracted from a lifespan.
For instance, if you’ve ever been to a baseball game and were bored out of your mind (guilty as charged) and tried to make the most of it by eating a hotdog, well that frankfurter just cost you 36 minutes of your life, according to the researchers.
Instead of eating a hotdog, if you have sunflower seeds or peanuts, it will add nearly a half hour to your lifespan.
Foods That Make You—And The Earth—Live Longer
The cool thing about the research is that not only was the disease burden to humans measured, so was the environmental impact. One take away from the study was that substituting processed meat like chicken wings and deli slices for a mix of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and certain seafood like wild salmon can extend your life by almost 50 minutes. Moreover, doing this would reduce your dietary carbon footprint by one-third.
As I alluded to, the problem with nutrition advice is there’s not enough real world, consequential associations with food choices. In other words, can you imagine if every food you purchased from a supermarket had a plus or minus along with a number that corresponded to how many minutes of life you would gain or lose? That would really put things in perspective.
Katerina Stylianou, one of the researchers in the study said, “Generally, dietary recommendations lack specific and actionable direction to motivate people to change their behavior, and rarely do dietary recommendations address environmental impacts.” So true!
Another thing I liked about the work by these researchers from UM is that they split the foods according to the three colors of a traffic light. Go for green foods, yield to yellow and stop and think twice before eating foods in the red category.
Green foods are not only healthy, they have the lowest carbon footprint. They are:
- Field-grown vegetables, like the organic leafy greens Chef V uses for Organic Green Drinks.
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Legumes (beans, soy beans, lentils, peanuts)
- Sustainably-raised, wild-caught seafood
Red light foods should be avoided as much as possible because they don’t contribute to a longer lifespan and also carry a heavier ecological burden. Foods in this category are processed beef and pork products.
Think In Minutes, Not Calories
If you want to geek out and read the study, check it out here. I wrote this article because I really dig the concept of thinking about food choices in the context of lengthening your lifespan.
For some people, hearing that a certain food has this many calories or that many grams of carbs or this many grams of sugar or this much fat rings hollow; it doesn’t sink in. I know it’s wishful thinking, but maybe this study will spark a movement for a lifespan ranking to be added to food labels.
Look, I realize that it’s not shocking to say that organically-grown, fresh fruits and veggies along with other plant-based foods add the most amount of time to our lifespan. And the cherry on top is that they are the most environmentally-friendly. But maybe for those who struggle with food choices, placing more emphasis on whether eating a certain food will add to or shorten lifespan will have more of an effect than merely saying, ‘eat this because it’s healthy and don’t eat that because it’s bad.’
Add Minutes To Your Lifespan With Organic Green Drink
The same goes for my Green Drink. When you swap a typical American breakfast for Green Drink, just think that you’re adding at least half an hour to your lifespan with every bottle!