A new life study suggests that processed foods, like hot dogs, can take healthy time off a person’s lifespan. More nutritious foods have the opposite impact, adding healthy life.
The findings are part of a nutritional index that was released this week aimed at helping Americans eat better. Researchers looked at over 5,000 foods part of the US diet classified by environmental impacts and health burden.
The study found that hot dogs, hamburgers, breakfast sandwiches, and sugary beverages had the most negative impact. A single hot dog on a bun resulted in about 36 minutes lost.
Non-starchy and mixed vegetables, fruits, ready-to-eat cereals, and cooked grains give the most significant increase in a healthy life. Surprisingly, peanut butter sandwiches were found to add 33 minutes. Baked salmon, salted peanuts, and rice with beans added between 10 and 15 minutes of health time.
Researchers found that even a minimal change in diet can have a significant impact. People who switch out 10 percent of daily caloric consumption of processed meats and beef to vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and certain kinds of seafood can add as many as 48 minutes per person per day.
“We use the results to inform marginal dietary substitutions, which are realistic and feasible,” the study read. “We find that small, targeted, food-level substitutions can achieve compelling nutritional benefits and environmental impact reductions.”
The researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, presented the findings in the journal Nature Food. The authors detailed their newly developed Health Nutritional Index, which draws on the 2016 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study for dietary risk factors and harmful health effects associated with certain foods.
New research evaluated more than 5,800 foods and their impact on human health & the environment.
An astonishing finding? Eating a hot dog could cost you 36 minutes of healthy life, & eating a serving of nuts instead could help you gain 26 minutes.
— MichiganPublicHealth (@umichsph) August 19, 2021