University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences researchers published results of a new study, depressing at times, informing us of their Health Nutritional Index (HENI).   Their study, published in the journal Nature Food, evaluated more than 5,800 different foods that many of us consume every day.  They ranked the foods by their “nutritional disease burden to humans and their impact on the environment”.

This new study drew from the conclusions of their 2016 Global Burden of Disease study in which “disease mortality and morbidity are associated with a single food choice of an individual”. The authors of the new study stated:

"We use the results to inform marginal dietary substitutions, which are realistic and feasible…We find that small, targeted, food-level substitutions can achieve compelling nutritional benefits and environmental impact reductions."

Katerina Stylianou, one of the researchers of this new study stated one of the reasons for this study was to motivate people when she stated:

"Generally, dietary recommendations lack specific and actionable direction to motivate people to change their behavior, and rarely do dietary recommendations address environmental impacts”

In their study of over 5,800 foods, they found the range of minutes of life lost or gained ranged from a loss of 74 minutes to the gain of 80 minutes of life.  The foods they linked to the most minutes of healthy life lost ranged from hamburgers, and drinks containing high sugar to processed meats such as hot dogs.  The foods associated with the addition of healthy minutes added to your life were what Mom always told you to eat and that is your fruits and vegetables as well as cooked grains.

Here is a rough one to guess.  The research and thus the study suggests that you:

“Decreasing foods with the most negative health and environmental impacts including high processed meat, beef, shrimp, followed by pork, lamb and greenhouse-grown vegetables.”


“Increasing the most nutritionally beneficial foods, including field-grown fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and low-environmental impact seafood.”

“Environmental impact” sounds like they are linking this study to Global Warning.  Actually, I should say that is exactly what they are doing.

Now let’s get down to the processed meat part of this piece.  

How many minutes does eating a delicious beef hot dog take off of your life?  According to the study, 35 minutes.

Let end this piece with some good news.  Those of you who enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will add 33 minutes to your healthy life.

Here is a suggestion, put the hot dog on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich and you essentially come out about even.

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