Towards an environmentally sustainable and healthy Atlantic dietary pattern: Life cycle carbon footprint and nutritional quality
Authors-Ext: Carmela Darriba
Magazine/book: Science of The Total Environment
Date of publication: 01/01/2019
Publishing house: Elsevier
ISBN: ISSN: 0048-9697
Impact Index: 4.61
Production and consumption of food has a significant effect on climate change. The effect of different consumption habits on the environment should not be under estimated, as there are different studies that mention the environmental impact associated with different foods, especially those of animal origin. The analysis of the Atlantic diet (AD), as the most common dietary pattern in Northwestern Spain, serves as an example of a diet with a high consumption of local, fresh and seasonal products, home cooking and low-processed foods. The evaluation was carried out by quantifying the carbon footprint following the Life Cycle Analysis methodology and identifying its nutritional quality according to the value of the Nutrient-rich Dietary index (NRD9.3.). According to the main results, the consumption of livestock products and shellfish is responsible for most GHG emissions (70% of the total). The basic ingredients of the AD, such as vegetables and legumes, make a relatively minor contribution (with an impact of 30% of the total) to the total carbon footprint of 3.01 kg CO2eq·person−1·day−1. As regards nutritional quality, AD has a high nutritional score (474), mainly due to the low intake of sodium, added sugars and saturated fats (nutrients to be limited in healthy diets). In general, both the carbon footprint and the nutritional index score are consistent with those of other studies on the Mediterranean diet, which has been recognised as beneficial. Therefore, it can be concluded that the AD may be recommended from a nutritional and environmental point of view, mainly due to the high intake of fish and vegetables. The communication of this valuable environmental and nutritional information to consumers should be taken into account when considering strategic actions for the adoption of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns.