What’s a Sustainable Diet?

A sustainable diet is an eating model that goes beyond health. Read onto discover the fundamentals and why experts recommend it!
What’s a Sustainable Diet?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Have you heard of the term “sustainable diet?”

Environmental pollution is a very concerning global problem. Gas emissions and waste products could condition the survival of humans as a species in the coming decades. For this reason, a series of measures are being put in place. Some of them are related to our diet.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about the sustainable diet eating model. In addition to ensuring proper bodily functioning, it cares about the origin of foods and the environmental impact of their production.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading!

Sustainable diet: A respectful dietary model

First of all, one of the main goals of sustainable diets, as stated in an article published in the journal The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, is to reduce the ecological footprint of human beings on the planet. This consists of using less energy and chemicals for livestock and agriculture.

In addition, it advocates for the purchase of local foods, thus reducing fuel costs derived from international transport. By following a series of very basic guidelines, we can significantly reduce gas emissions.

On the other hand, this dietary model prioritizes the consumption of products of plant origin. After all, their renewal rate is higher than that of foods of animal origin. Therefore, consuming them doesn’t impact nature’s food chains as much. This way, we can also help prevent the extinction of species, which is conditioned to overconsumption and overexploitation of resources.

Logal vegetables.
Sustainable diets support the local economy by prioritizing purchasing from local producers.

Sustainable and healthy

However, you shouldn’t believe that sustainable diets only care for the environment. In fact, a sustainable diet also has countless health benefits.

Actually, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with improved metabolism functioning. In fact, a review of studies published in 2017 positively linked the intake of vegetable products with a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

This condition is due, among other things, to the contribution of flavonoids from fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are found in nature in small proportions.

In fact, flavonoids are often pigments that are responsible for giving food its color. According to research collected in the Journal of Medicinal Food, they’re capable of reducing the risk of developing neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Less processed foods, a sustainable diet

As we’ve seen, the sustainable diet defends the consumption of local products with a low degree of industrial processing. This restricts the intake of foods that have been subjected to lengthy processing, which implies a high energy requirement.

Also, these ultra-processed products are responsible for the development of many complex diseases. For example, there’s diabetes. This endemic disease is associated with the regular intake of sweet foods rich in added sugars. In fact, a systematic review from 2017 shows that consuming these foods regularly conditions metabolic health.

However, your metabolism isn’t the only part that will benefit from this change in your diet. Also, your cardiovascular system will thank you. This is because eating vegetables reduces the risk of heart problems.

The restriction of ultra-processed foods is also capable of exerting this effect. Experts say that foods rich in trans fats are mainly responsible for the systemic inflammation that causes atherosclerosis, which has negative repercussions on blood circulation.

Fresh fruits at at local market.
Sustainable diets prefer fresh vegetables over ultra-processed ones.

Sustainable diets improve the local economy

Finally, it’s important to also highlight that the sustainable diet model is beneficial for the local economy. In fact, consuming local products increases the income of small producers.

This way, the presence of multinationals, which is responsible for abusive working conditions and wages, is reduced. Therefore, sustainable diets not only improve health and respect the environment, but are also capable of helping livestock and agricultural workers.

Stick to this healthy, respectful, and sustainable diet model

Now that you know what a sustainable diet consists of and what its advantages are, you should consider trying it out. Not only is it good for your health but it also respects the environment and the rights of many workers.

Overall, implementing this dietary model will help to prevent inequality and prevent the extinction of animal species. Plus, as if all this weren’t enough, it may also reduce the risk of developing complex pathologies associated with an unhealthy diet.

In short, the next time you go shopping, opt for a local store rather than a large chain store. Also, check food labels for more information about the food production method.

Increase your consumption of local and organic vegetables!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aune D., Giovannucci E., Boffetta P., Fadness LT., et al., Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all cause mortality a systematic review and dose response meta analysis of prospective studies. Int J Epidemiol, 2017. 46 (3): 1029-1056.
  • Jung UJ., Kim SR., Beneficial effects of flavonoids against parkinson’s disease. J Med Food, 2018. 21 (5): 421-432.
  • Schwingshackl L., Hoffman G., Lampousi AM., Knuppel S., et al., Food groups and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Epidemiol, 2017. 32 (5): 363-375.
  • Valenzuela CA., Baker EJ., MIles EA., Calder PC., Eighteen carbon trans fatty acids and inflammation in the context of atherosclerosis. Prog Lipid Res, 2019.
  • Lang T., Mason P., Sustainable diet policy development: implications of multi criteria and other approaches, 2008-2017. Proc Nutr Soc, 2018. 77 (3): 331-346.
  • Serra-Majem, L. “Nutrición comunitaria y sostenibilidad: concepto y evidencias.” Revista Espanola de Nutrición Comunitaria 16.1 (2010): 35-40.
  • Serra-Majem, Lluis, and Adriana Ortiz-Andrellucchi. “La dieta mediterránea como ejemplo de una alimentación y nutrición sostenibles: enfoque multidisciplinar.” Nutrición hospitalaria 35.4 (2018): 96-101.
  • Campos Muñoz, Jesulin. “Hipótesis dieta-corazón?: A propósito del “Minnesota Coronary Experiment.” Revista Medica Herediana 28.2 (2017): 134-135.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.