EVERY slice of pizza you eat could shorten your lifespan by 7.8 minutes – but french fries will buy you more time, a new study has claimed.
Experts at the University of Michigan have calculated the health burden of different foods by looking at their carbon footprint and nutritional impact.
They found that a portion of french fries can add 1.5 minutes to a person’s life and nuts can add almost 26, reports The Telegraph.
Meanwhile a peanut butter and jam sandwich gives a person more than half an hour extra.
Foods like pizza, bacon and burgers, however, will lose you time – with a serving of pizza slashing off almost 10 minutes of healthy life.
The study, published in the journal Nature Food, is based around healthy life expectancy – the length of time a person has a good quality of life and is disease free.
The scientists behind the findings calculated the direct influence of various meals, snacks and drinks in almost 6,000 cases.
The study authors wrote: “For example, we found that, on average, 0.45 minutes are lost per gram of any processed meat that a person eats in the US.
“The 61 grams of processed meat in a hotdog sandwich results in 27 minutes of healthy life lost due to this amount of processed meat alone.
“Then, when considering the other risk factors, like the sodium and trans fatty acids inside the hotdog – counterbalanced by the benefit of its polyunsaturated fat and fibers – we arrived at the final value of 36 minutes of healthy life lost per hotdog.”
The University hopes that the findings will encourage people to make better choices for themselves – as well as the environment.
Study author Prof Olivier Jolliet said: “The urgency of dietary changes to improve human health and the environment is clear.
“Our findings demonstrate that small targeted substitutions offer a feasible and powerful strategy to achieve significant health and environmental benefits without requiring dramatic dietary shifts.
“The Health Nutritional Index takes into account all aspects of a product’s life cycle, including how it is produced, harvested, processed, consumed and disposed of, as well as how calorific and nutritionally beneficial or detrimental a food was.”
The researchers have now given each food a traffic light rating based on whether we should eat more or less of the product.
Salmon scored green for nutritional impact – adding 16 minutes – however it got a red overall because of its environmental impact.
Meanwhile Cola got a red for nutritional – but a green for environmental.
Katerina Stylianou, the lead author of the study said: “Previous studies have often reduced their findings to a plant versus animal-based foods discussion.
“Although we find that plant-based foods generally perform better, there are considerable variations within both plant-based and animal-based foods.”