Future 50: Foods That Keep You and the Planet Healthy
As athletes, we are constantly looking for proper ways to fuel ourselves. Now imagine that a registered dietician, an international food and beverage brand and a non-governmental, leading conservation organization came together to provide us with a list of the top 50 nutrient-rich foods we should be eating. Envision that their focus was to help educate all of us on sustainable ways to eat for our health and at the same time provide an actionable approach for the longevity of the planet. It may sound almost too good to be true, but no longer do we have to wait to find out because the future of food is here.
This past week the launch of the Future 50 Foods was presented by Knorr and WWF in collaboration with registered dietician Dorothy Shaver in Paris, France, to present the future of foods. They have come together to provide a positive initiative to help educate us on obtaining proper nutrients through all natural, plant-based ingredients. The aim is to change the way people eat to not only improve our health but that of the planet as well. The initiative states there is a necessity to change our thoughts towards obtaining nutritional foods from animal-based proteins, which create a significant strain on the environment, to increased vegetable intake. The ambition of the project is to make three shifts in the foods we grow and eat: more vegetables, more variety in sources of carbohydrates, and more plant-based sources of protein. The report works with doctors of research and science along with experts in food sustainability, agriculture and nutrition to provide 50 food options that have a high nutritional value, low relative environmental impact, and at the same time are flavorful, accessible and affordable.
There are 5 guiding principles in identifying the Future 50 Foods:
- Optimize Nutrient Density: Nutritional values are determined when foods are raw and unprocessed. Eating foods in their raw state provides the best nutrient intake.
- Focus on Plant-Based Foods: By transitioning to a diet focusing on plant-based proteins we can receive equivalent nutrients in our diet while having a lower environmental impact.
- Evaluate Environmental Impact: Animal-based proteins are not only a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, but require an abundance of land and water resources and contribute to pollution through liquid waste. Plant-based foods are more environmentally friendly while remaining nutrient dense.
- Deliver Diversity: Globally and in modern day, humans predominantly eat from only 12 crops and 5 animals. This small percentage of food intake excludes many sources of nutrients while at the same time minimizes proper vitamin and mineral intake.
- Consider Culture and Flavor: By broadening and varying our nutrition sources, we have the opportunity to experience new, delicious dishes.
The 50 foods are divided into 11 sub-groups of types of food:
Algae – Besides being nutrient rich with essential fatty acids, proteins and antioxidants, they are critical for the planet by producing half of all oxygen production on Earth. These include: different types of seaweed.
Beans & Pulses – From the legume family, beans and pulses are rich in fiber, protein, and Vitamin B. For the planet, they convert nitrogen to be readily used for plants. These include: lentils and a variety of beans.
Cacti – Known as a succulent, edible cacti provide us with Vitamins C & E, carotenoids, fiber, and amino acids. Their ability to store water allows them to grow in environments susceptible to drought. This includes: nopales, known as the prickly pear.
Cereals & Grains – Cereals and grains have been historically sound foods used for centuries and in multiple cultures as sources for carbohydrates. Sustainable growth of whole cereals and grains can ultimately improve soil health over time. This includes: buckwheat, quinoa, and wild rice along with several others.
Fruit Vegetables – Mistaken as sweeter vegetables, these food sources provide carbohydrates, Vitamin C, fiber and water. They can be grown in warm weather climates. This includes: okra and orange tomatoes.
Leafy Greens – Often thought of as the greens that make up our salads, they can also include the parts of vegetables we tend to throw away such as the leaves of vegetables, which if thrown out are neglected sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. This includes: beet greens, pumpkin leaves, along with more commonly known red cabbage, kale and spinach to name a few.
Mushrooms – With 2,000 edible versions to choose from, mushrooms provide Vitamin B & D, protein, and fiber. Because mushrooms can grow in extreme environments, this makes them a food that can be found in many places. This includes: edible mushrooms of enoki, maitake, and saffron milk cap.
Nuts & Seeds – High in Vitamin E and good fats, these foods are the ultimate superfood typically because they are sought after for their texture and taste. This includes: flax, hemp, and sesame seeds along with walnuts.
Root Vegetables – Root vegetables provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals while being easily accessible during cool seasons. This includes: parsley root and winter radish.
Sprouts – Sprouts are another historical food source that has also played major roles for medicinal purposes because of their high nutrient content. However, sprouts should only be eaten with proper food safety practices due to their growth in warm and humid conditions making them susceptible to bacterial growth. This includes: alfalfa and different bean sprouts.
Tubers – A winter food source found deep in the ground, tubers are high in carbohydrates and found as a valuable source of energy. This includes: purple yam, jicama, and sweet potatoes.
You can find all 50 foods in the Future 50 Foods report found here. Click here if you are looking for delicious recipes that include the Future 50 Foods that can be individualized and catered to your lifestyle and family size.