Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Diets with Improved Omega-3 Fatty Acid Profiles
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2016
A high incidence of cardiovascular disease is observed worldwide, and dietary habits are one of the risk factors for these diseases. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet help to prevent cardiovascular disease. We used life cycle assessment to analyse the potential of two strategies to improve the nutritional and environmental characteristics of French diets: 1) modifying diets by changing the quantities and proportions of foods and 2) increasing the omega-3 contents in diets by replacing mainly animal foods with equivalent animal foods having higher omega-3 contents. We also investigated other possibilities for reducing environmental impacts. Our results showed that a diet compliant with nutritional recommendations for macronutrients had fewer environmental impacts than the current average French diet. Moving from an omnivorous to a vegetarian diet further reduced environmental impacts. Increasing the omega-3 contents in animal rations increased Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) in animal food products. Providing these enriched animal foods in human diets increased their EPA and DHA contents without affecting their environmental impacts. However, in diets that did not contain fish, EPA and DHA contents were well below the levels recommended by health authorities, despite the inclusion of animal products enriched in EPA and DHA. Reducing meat consumption and avoidable waste at home are two main avenues for reducing environmental impacts of diets.