By eating a little less meat and cheese during the week, you can save your waistline and the environment.
According to a new report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), if every American gave up meat and cheese for only one day per week, it would be like citizens of the United States driving 91 billion fewer miles a year.
Here’s why: The report calculated the greenhouse gases produced when certain foods are produced. Lamb, beef and cheese ranked first, second and third on the list. The EWG is urging Americans to eat less of these foods.
It’s true that meat and cheese can help supplement a healthy diet. Meats, such as lamb and beef, are part of the protein foods group. Proteins help build strong bones, and they also help construct muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. They contain B vitamins, which help with the release of energy, and also help the nervous system perform properly. They help form red blood cells and tissues. Meats are full of iron, which help carry oxygen in the blood. Cheese also contains many health benefits. This member of the dairy foods group, which is full of calcium, can help prevent osteoporosis by improving bone mass. However, there are many downsides to eating a lot of some meats and cheese, which is why listening to the EWG might not be such as bad idea.
Ironically, lamb and beef are two members of the protein foods group that can be highest in saturated fat, which can raise “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. High LDL cholesterol can significantly increase your risk for coronary heart disease. Eating these foods regularly in your diet can also lead to obesity.
Eating less beef could help your health as well as the environment.
Photo by publicenergy/Courtesy Flickr
Also, not all cheeses are good for you. Many grocery stores sell fat-free or low-fat cheeses that give you healthier options. However, if you choose to buy regular cheese, these could be high in saturated fats and cholesterol, just like some members of the protein foods group.
If you do choose to help out good ol’ Mother Earth and have a vegetarian kind of day, there are many other options that can help you still get all of your nutrients. Beans, peas, nuts and seeds are all members of the protein foods group that will give you benefits similar to meat. Yogurt is a great option from the dairy foods group that is rich is potassium and can help maintain healthy blood pressure. Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html for more information.