Scottish scientists create eco-diet that will keep you full of beans
IT’S the dietary plan that could both cut the nation’s weight and help save the planet.
Scottish scientists have for the first time created a new menu plan that is healthy and nutritious as well as being good for the environment.
The researchers compiled a shopping list of 52 foods arranged in categories according to how much climate-changing greenhouse gases are produced to make and transport them.
They then came up with a weekly “weight” allowance for each food, which if followed, would reduce the use of greenhouse gases by around a third. Surprisingly, the list features favourite foods such as chocolate, ice-cream and red meat, but anyone wanting to reduce their carbon footprint must only eat them in relatively tiny quantities.
The diet – complete with suggested menus – has been devised by experts at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at Aberdeen University amid concerns about the effects of climate change and rising levels of obesity. Around a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food production and distribution through the use of petrol and electricity and more than a quarter of Scots have excess weight.
Dr Jennie Macdiarmid, of the institute’s Public Health Nutrition Research Group, said: “We wanted to produce an example of a diet that was healthy, economical and could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because it had not been done before. ”
The scientists wanted to see whether it was possible to eat a healthy but realistic diet that would at the same time reduce the production of greenhouse gases. Some food groups – such as dairy products and meat – produce much bigger emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide than others because of the way they are manufactured and brought to market. By contrast, the production of fruit, vegetables and legumes is much less likely to produce such high emissions.
Typical meals on the plan include spaghetti bolognaise, chicken curry and salmon with cream cheese, which all contain products with high greenhouse gas emissions. But because the allowed portions are smaller, the greenhouse gas reduction target should not be breached, particularly as there is more pasta, rice and vegetables on the menu lists than the typical Scot currently eats.
Overall, the diet is one-third starch and one-third vegetables and fruit, with the remainder made up from foods including meat, fish, dairy, beans, eggs and treats.
Spread throughout the week would be a single bar of chocolate, one large muffin, a packet of crisps, a couple of biscuits and a pudding.
Anyone going shopping to stock up on the ingredients is also likely to spend less than usual, the report says. The quantities prescribed in the diet cost around £29 per person for a week – not including herbs, spice, tea, coffee and alcohol – which is lower than the average UK grocery spend of £33.
Macdiarmid said: “The type of diet we have produced wouldn’t shock anyone, it’s cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches or soup for lunch, and main meals like spaghetti bolognaise or chicken curry, made without a high fat or sugar content.
“What is different is the quantities of each food – less meat and fewer high fat and sugary foods and more starchy foods, fruit and vegetables than we currently eat.
“It does include some snack foods but in much smaller quantities. Their consumption needs to be reduced, but not eliminated.”
Mike Small, who helps run the 4,000-member Fife Diet, a project which encourages households to buy food from local suppliers to cut down on the greenhouse gases caused by motorised transport, said the new diet was a step in the right direction.
“This kind of research is absolutely needed, and this suggested diet is reasonable. It makes all kind of sense .”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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