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Is a Cardio-Protective Diet Sustainable? A Review of the Synergies and Tensions Between Foods That Promote the Health of the Heart and the Planet

Downs, Shauna M., Fanzo, Jessica
Current nutrition reports 2015 v.4 no.4 pp. 313-322
Helianthus annuus, carbon, diet, fish, fruits, heart, olive oil, vegetables, walnuts, water footprint, whole grain foods
There are many synergies between a diet that is healthy for the heart and one that is healthy for the planet, but there may also be tensions. We examined the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition’s double pyramid to describe the carbon, water, and ecological footprints of the components of a cardio-protective diet. Overall, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains all tend to have low carbon and water footprints, while nuts and olive oil have relatively higher water footprints and fish have a high ecological footprint. In order to increase the sustainability of a cardio-protective diet, consumers can choose nuts (e.g., walnuts) and oils (e.g., sunflower) with lower water footprints and sustainably produced fish. However, in order to increase consumption of these foods, parallel efforts should be implemented targeting consumer knowledge and incentives to make these foods more affordable.