Foods that can add or take away minutes of your life

THE STAR/AFP – Researchers from the University of Michigan, United States (US), have established a guide that ranks thousands of foods according to their health benefits.

To make the results accessible and understandable to as many people as possible, this guide is not in the form of a nutri-score, but of a time scale.

The time involved ranges from 74 minutes lost to 80 gained, depending on the portion ingested.

In addition to nutritional qualities, this guide also includes environmental data.

Choosing your food wisely could allow you to slash your carbon footprint by a third and gain 48 healthy minutes per day.

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature Food, analyses 5,853 foods that are consumed in the US, from leeks to hot dogs.

Eating a hot dog can cost you 36 minutes of your life. PHOTO: AFP

Not surprisingly, eating too much meat is bad for your health, these scientists outline in their analysis.

A hot dog can thus cause a loss of 36 minutes of healthy life; red meat six minutes and 29 seconds.

On the other hand, fruits can add 11 minutes and 54 seconds; vegetables two minutes and 10 seconds.

The study concludes that replacing just 10 per cent of daily caloric intake from beef and processed meat with fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seafood, could result in substantial health improvements of 48 minutes per person per day and a 33-per-cent reduction in the carbon footprint of eating.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

However, some findings from the study are more surprising.

That American classic, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for example, could add 33 minutes.

That’s three times more than fruit.

While candy could add 28 seconds of life, sugar causes loss of one second of life.

To justify the validity of their scale, the scientists specify that it is a theoretical scale, intended to help apply better choices without radically changing our diet.