5 Foods That Are Healthy For People and For the Planet

Different foods may have different impacts on human health and the environment. Regular human diet links health and the environment closely and can nurture both. Healthy foods offer benefits like improved life expectancy and reduced child and infant mortality rates, hunger, and poverty. 

Nevertheless, the increasing shift towards calorie-rich, highly processed diets impacts human health negatively and is also unsustainable.

What we consume regularly has a major influence on the environment. So, it’s clear that eating more sustainably and healthfully goes hand-in-hand. Further, we can develop eco-friendly eating practices that improve our health and benefit the planet. If you want to practice a sustainable healthy diet, here are five foods that are healthy for people and for the planet:

  1. Soy

Soy is a super powerful ingredient with several dietary advantages that make it one of the most promising sources of nutrition. This plant-based, complete protein contains all the nine essential amino acids the human body needs to make protein. 

Some soy food varieties, like miso and natto, are good potassium, folate, probiotics, and fiber sources. As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Omega-3 and six essential fatty acids in soybean oil and protein benefit the heart. 

And thanks to the eco-friendly farming practices of U.S. soybean farmers, U.S.-grown soy is nutritious and sustainable.

Through regenerative farming procedures, like cover crops, no-till farming, carbon sequestration, and crop rotation, the U.S. soybean farmers are working towards increasing carbon in the soil while decreasing the same in the environment. The U.S. soybean growers now use biotechnology to reduce the use of herbicides, thus contributing to increased production of superior-quality soybeans. 

They also use GPS technology, satellite mapping, and precision farming to improve seed planting and sustainably optimize land for soybean growth. To learn more about soy and soy-related products, you can refer to US Soy latest news. 

  1. Lentils, Beans, and Pulses

Lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas, and pulses are versatile foods with loads of plant-based protein, B vitamins, and fiber. Available in varied sizes and colors- black beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans also contain healthy antioxidants and digest slowly, keeping people full longer.

Nevertheless, beans, lentils, and pulses offer unique environmental benefits with their low water and carbon footprint.

During the growth phase, they fix the air by converting nitrogen into a new form that plants can readily absorb and use. Additionally, lentils and beans can quickly grow using rainwater or green water stored in the soil by different plants. 

These foods do not have a significant footprint when using natural resources, making them highly environmentally friendly and easy to grow. With a 43 times lower carbon footprint than beef, lentils fortify and clean the soil, making it easier to grow other crops.

  1. Seaweed

Seaweed is highly nutritional and sustainable, with its production causing no harm to aquaculture. Seaweed grows in water, getting everything from it and providing huge yields without fertilizers. 

Additionally, seaweed filters excessive nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, from water, thus solving issues caused due to agricultural run-offs, sewage facilities, and fish farms. For example, algae, a nutritious seaweed filled with protein, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, iodine, and vitamin C, is responsible for almost half of Earth’s oxygen production.

Again, huge ocean kelp growth plays a vital role in removing CO2 from the environment and storing the same. Since seaweed grows faster than land plants, it can easily remove more carbon dioxide with proper harvesting. 

Moreover, it offers a great seasonal alternative for the coastal communities that depend on fisheries, thus preventing overfishing while supporting the local economies.

  1. Mushrooms

With an umami-like, meaty flavor, mushrooms are one of the best alternatives to animal-based proteins and are highly delicious too! Most edible mushroom varieties are rich in vitamin D, B vitamins, fiber, and protein sources. 

At the same time, they are wonderfully sustainable and can quickly grow where other foods cannot. With no need for photosynthesis, they can grow on scraps and are easy to maintain. And since they use the by-products of other crops as growth compost, mushrooms have a very low environmental impact. 

As per the Mushroom Council, producing a pound of mushroom requires less than two gallons of water and significantly lower energy, thus contributing to low CO2 emissions. Also, mushrooms need very little land for growth; one acre is enough to produce up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms.

  1. Whole Grains and Cereals

One of the essential elements of the regular human diet, whole grains and cereals offer several health-promoting nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, such as phytosterols and polyphenols. They also rank low on greenhouse gas emissions, releasing only 1.4 kg of carbon dioxide per kilogram. 

Furthermore, they need comparatively less water than different animal products; wheat requires only 138 gallons per pound, around 7% of the water needed to produce an equivalent amount of beef. So, choose grains and cereals manufactured in your country to reduce food miles and ensure that transportation isn’t increasing their carbon footprint.


So, help safeguard the environment by consuming these five foods, each highly sustainable regarding land and water usage, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Remember, your everyday choices make a difference.

As a result, make these foods a significant part of your regular diet. This does not mean you must eliminate your present staples; instead, try going plant-based for a week every month.  

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