For any medicine, there is a dose that makes it helpful and a dose which makes it harmful. For food to be a beneficial medicine, a healthy quantity and quality must be a part of your culture and daily routine.
–Barry Breaux, Jr. MD.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics designated March as National Nutrition Month to bring awareness to the study of food science and its influence on human and planetary health.
It’s known that a nutritious diet that positively impacts your health and well-being consists of high-quality foods that are unrefined and minimally processed, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy sources of protein. Here are six sustainable trends to feed your health, nourish your body and planet earth.
- Seeds as a fat source: the seed you plant is the seed that grows. This, for many, means planting positive thoughts so that your life reflects them. This happens with seeds. They contain the helpful nutrients necessary to grow into a healthy plant. So, eating seeds is nutritionally beneficial. This is especially true for healthy fats. Besides providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, seeds are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research shows that a diet high in Omega-6, the polyunsaturated fat dominant in seed oils such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds, combats high cholesterol, lowers blood sugar levels, and reduces heart disease risk. Make this Roasted Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Dried Cranberries, and Dark Chocolate Snack Mix Recipe for a healthy mid-afternoon snack.
- Mussels are a meaty nutritious, high-protein, low-calorie food that is good for you and the earth. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, folate, selenium, iodine, and iron. Besides their nutritional benefits, mussels are essential to maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem. Mussels are farmed through aquaculture, a sustainable farming method for seafood. They help reduce greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide from the ocean in order to grow their shells. Try this Steamed Mussels recipe for a flavorful meal.
- Pulse flour has higher levels of vitamins and minerals than traditional wheat or grain-based flour. Pulses are the edible seeds of legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas — and are packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Growing pulses is earth-friendly because they pull nitrogen from the air and back into the soil, ending the need for chemical fertilizers. Animal protein requires large amounts of water, and pulse flour only needs a fraction of the water to produce. Reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying this savory Baked Lentil Split Pea Falafel Bowl with Tahini Dressing.
- Drought Tolerant Veggies, such as certain varieties of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, Swiss chard, peppers, chickpeas, and mustard greens, are nutrient-dense and an excellent source of dietary fiber. They grow in arid climates, requiring less water than other vegetables. And most have a longer shelf life, making them a great way to reduce food waste. Eating them is an excellent way to stay healthy while also doing your part to protect planet earth. Try this Moroccan-Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew.
- High Protein Plant-Made Pasta. Protein-rich plant flours are increasingly popular because they supply more protein in a concentrated form than their whole food version. High-protein pasta made from quinoa, chickpeas, red lentils, black beans, peas, and edamame is also high in complex carbs. They are a healthier alternative to grain-based pasta because they are lower in calories and, for some, lack the inflammation-causing ingredients in grains. Plant pasta has more fiber, which helps with digestion, and is an excellent weight-loss option. Make this Vegan Chickpea Puttanesca recipe.
- Seaweed is quickly becoming one of the most popular sustainable superfoods in the world. It is one of the healthiest proteins available, chock full of essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Seaweed is better for those with high blood pressure. Table salt has sodium and chloride. Sodium holds excess fluid in your body, increasing blood pressure levels. Seaweed contains less sodium and chloride and more potassium salt, making it a healthier alternative. Unlike animal protein such as beef or pork, seaweed does not require land use or fertilizer to grow and harvest. This Vegan Seaweed Salad is an easy and delicious way to make your first seaweed dish.
“In 2050, it is estimated there will be 9.7 billion people, and we will require about 70% more food available for human consumption than is consumed today.”–The Science of Food Security.
As the population of humans increases, nutrient-dense food that grows quickly, is drought tolerant and uses minimal resources will be in demand. Food scientists continue to research and target the most sustainable foods with a minimal carbon footprint to feed humanity and protect our earth.
Andrea Breaux is the Founder of Healthy Healing Eats. She writes about food-as-medicine and earth-friendly lifestyle practices. Find her weekly blog, recipes, and products at healthyhealingeats.com.