The amazing twelve: 12 recommendations for a healthy and sustainable diet

The amazing twelve: 12 recommendations for a healthy and sustainable diet

July 24, 2020

The amazing twelve: 12 recommendations for a healthy and sustainable diet

The FAO recommentations are easy to follow and are the perfect recipe for a sustainable diet that is good for human health and the planet.



The FAO experts explain this clearly in the introduction to their document “Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity”: sustainable diets are those that feature low environmental impact and contribute to nutritional and food safety. But that’s not all. To be truly sustainable, diets must respect ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as being accessible and economically fair. In other words healthy and safe for both people and the planet.

The good news is that a sustainable diet is an easy road to take. You just need to follow a few simple rules:

1. Choose plant-based foods: this is brilliant advice not just for health reasons, but also because it points to a sustainable diet, greatly reducing the environmental impact of food production.

2. Eat a varied diet: filling plates with color helps ensure a variety of foods reach the table. A varied plate on the table means variety in agriculture.

3. Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, not just as a side dish. In a healthy, sustainable diet, fruits and vegetables are the perfect choice for a snack, even for young children.

4. Prefer seasonal, local products: knowing your local food not only enables you to buy the freshest and tastiest food, but is also key to sustainable agriculture and a sustainable economy, which enables savings.


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5. Use fresh ingredients, whenever possible: this helps reduce needless packaging, at home and when eating out.

6. Reduce consumption of packaged food: these foods are especially rich in sugars, fats and salt, as indicated in the nutritional information labels, hence they are not considered sustainable foods for your health.


7. Increase your intake of wholewheat grains: wholewheat rice, barley, oat, corn and rye have high nutritional benefits, they help prevent many diseases  and they require less work, hence less energy and water to produce the same amount of food.

8. Avoid sugary drinks: replacing water with with sodas and fruit juices leads to weight gain in the long term, it is not therefore recommended for a sustainable diet.

9. Increase your intake of pulses: a moderate consumption of pulses is a great way to adopt a sustainable diet, because it provides fibers and substitutes animal proteins with plant-based ones, benefiting the environment.

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10. Reduce consumption of red and processed meat: it is better to choose other sources of proteins, such as pulses. Rearing animals for meat is one of the farming businesses with the highest environmental impact.

11. Buy fish from sustainable sellers: this helps protect marine fauna and flora, increasingly threatened by overfishing.

12. Look for products that come from free-range farms and pastures: consumer choices also have an impact on the quality of life of the animals we use for food.


And to end on a safe note, follow the basic hygiene rules set out in the document “A healthy diet sustainably produced” by FAO and WHO experts: 

1. wash your hands before handling food and after going to the bathroom;

2. sanitize surfaces and protect them from insects and other animals;

3. keep raw and cooked foods separate;

4. cook food well and store it at safe temperatures;

5. use hygienically safe water to wash raw food.


Learn more about similar topics:

Find out more about Food and sustainability

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