Organic food offers significant environmental benefits, but only to plant-rich diets: study

636540221064596962organicCROP.jpg

12 Feb 2018 --- A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one rich in animal products, with organic food providing significant additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, a major new study has confirmed. However, these additional benefits do not extend to diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. Published last week in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, this is the first study to investigate the environmental impacts of both dietary patterns and farm production systems. It is also the first to investigate the environmental impact of organic food consumption using observed diets rather than models.

Many organizations, including the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, advocate the urgent adoption of more sustainable diets at a global level. Such diets include reduced consumption of animal products, which have a higher environmental impact than plant-based products. This is mainly due to the high energy requirements of livestock farming as well as the very large contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. 

The method of food production may also influence sustainable diets. Organic agriculture is generally considered more environmentally friendly than other modern production techniques. However, while many studies have investigated environmentally sustainable diets, these have rarely considered both dietary choices and the production method of the foods consumed.

“We wanted to provide a more comprehensive picture of how different diets impact the environment,” says Louise Seconda from the French Agence De L'Environnement Et De La Maitrise De L'Energie and the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Unit, one of the article's authors. “In particular, it is of considerable interest to consider the impacts of both plant-based foods and organic foods.”

Researchers obtained information on food intake and organic food consumption from more than 34,000 French adults. They used a so-called “provegetarian” score to determine preferences for plant-based or animal-based food products. The researchers also conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at the farm level against three environmental indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand and land occupation.

“Combining consumption and farm production data we found that across the board, diet-related environmental impacts were reduced with a plant-based diet – particularly greenhouse gas emissions,” says Seconda. “The consumption of organic food added even more environmental benefits for a plant-based diet. In contrast, consumption of organic food did not add significant benefits to diets with a high contribution from animal products and only moderate contribution from plant products.”

However, the researchers warn that the environmental effects of production systems are not uniform and can be impacted by climate, soil types and farm management.

As the researchers did not look at other indicators relevant to the environmental impacts of productions systems, such as pesticide use, leaching and soil quality, Seconda comments that future studies “could also consider these as well as supply chain and distribution impacts of food production.”

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Mushrooms hold potential for prebiotic diabetes treatment, study finds

17 Aug 2018 --- Eating white button mushrooms can create subtle shifts in the microbial community in the gut, which could improve the regulation of glucose in the liver, according to a team of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences researchers. They also suggest that better understanding this connection between mushrooms and gut microbes in mice could one day pave the way for new diabetes treatments and prevention strategies for people.

Health & Nutrition News

Living by a forest diversifies kid’s micronutrient intake, study finds

17 Aug 2018 --- A global study has found that children who live near forests enjoy a better nutrition intake than those who live further away from them. The research, which was conducted across 27 developing countries, identified that children living by forests had at least 25 percent greater diversity in their diets compared to kids who did not. The study, published in Science Advances, notes particular nutrient increases with vitamin A and iron. The findings have the potential for actors attempting to lessen malnutrition through interventions such as fortification, by highlighting the benefit that could come from an integrated approach.

Health & Nutrition News

Low-carb diets could shorten life by four years, warns Lancet study

17 Aug 2018 --- Following a low-carb diet could shorten life expectancy by four years, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health. The high levels of animal fats and proteins that often replace carbohydrates in typical low-carb diets appear to be associated with the higher risk of mortality. Eating more plant-based proteins and fats in place of carbohydrates was linked to lower mortality and even reversed the greater mortality risk. 

Health & Nutrition News

Weekly Roundup: US consumers rank clean water as top health desire, high protein diet reduces risk of diabetes for those with fatty liver

17 Aug 2018 --- The weekly roundup is NutritionInsight's collection of global nutrition stories from the past week. A Nestlé Waters commissioned survey found that clean water is the most important health factor to US consumers and a study found that increasing the amount of protein in the diet may reduce the risk of diabetes in people with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Australia based Freedom Foods acquired protein product brand Crankt to strengthen its position in the sports nutrition market. The European Commission (EC) approved an application from DSM Europe to rename the carotenoid zeaxanthin in the novel food register. CBI and Campden BRI are teaming up for a Colombian product development workshop and, lastly, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) announced eleven new additions to its membership ranks.

Health & Nutrition News

Omega 3 platforms: BASF targets Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease as scientific support behind intervention grows

16 Aug 2018 --- BASF is targeting Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) with Hepaxa, its first-to-market omega 3 product dedicated to the dietary management of the disease. Hepaxa increases the levels of fatty omega 3 acids in patients, which improves the liver's ability to process fat. Importantly, Hepaxa is manufactured using a patented purification technology which removes certain pollutants known to harm NAFLD patients. A recent meta-analysis of 18 studies, in part funded by BASF, has highlighted the importance of omega 3 intakes among people who have NAFLD.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/organic-food-offers-significant-environmental-benefits-to-plant-rich-diets.html