A biodiverse diet means a healthy diet

Preserving our invaluable heritage of food and agricultural biodiversity is not only good for the environment and ecosystems but also good for us and represents a way of taking care of ourselves.

Food biodiversity, ie the diversity of plants, animals and other organisms that we eat, contributes to a healthy and varied diet.

Today we will see how.


Food composition studies show that micro and macronutrient levels can vary greatly between species and even between cultivars of the same species. In particular, wild varieties tend to be more nutritious than those that have been domesticated.1

Closer examination of food composition can often reveal surprising differences, differences that can have important implications for our nutrition, for example in enabling vulnerable groups to meet their nutritional needs.2

Why Choose Native Varieties

For starters, native species are better adapted to local environmental conditions and therefore require fewer external inputs, such as water and plant protection products that do nothing to our health and certainly not for that of Farmers.

Additionally, to defend against environmental stresses such as high temperatures, drought, and frost that cause the production of DNA-damaging free radicals, plants use resistance mechanisms that activate the production of molecules with antioxidant properties.

Polyphenols, the elixir of long life

Consuming native plant species that have developed defenses against environmental conditions and external agents means increasing the level of protective substances in our diet: terpenes, vital molecules like carotenoids and vitamin E, phenolic compounds like flavonoids, alkaloids and compounds based on nitrogen and sulfur, which have proven to have a very effective antioxidant action.3

Prolonged consumption of polyphenols can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases, thus protecting the body from the damage that free radicals can cause to our DNA.4 the same applies not only to plants, but also to foods of animal origin, the nutritional values ​​of which again vary considerably from species to species. Some native fish types are an important source of protein and contain more vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc, than commercial species.5

Especially in developing countries, eating more wild foods allows people to have a more varied and balanced diet and improves food security, respond to the current food crisis and the loss of food sovereignty.

The Slow Food Presidia: Good, clean, fair and in good health!

Slow Food protects food biodiversity through projects like the Ark of Taste and the Presidia. In addition to measuring the economic, environmental, social and cultural repercussions of these projects, Slow Food has been trying for several years to quantify the effects that the consumption of Presidium products can have on the health of consumers, by collaborating with universities and specialized laboratories. on nutritional analyzes of plant and animal foods.

The comparison of Ark of Taste and Slow Food Presidia products with commercial varieties showed significant nutritional differences, both for plant and animal species.

For example, the Spanish variety of black corn Millo Corvo has a very high content of anthocyanins, and plant pigments with notable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, Polignano carrots, a traditional multicolored variety from the Italian province of Bari in Puglia, are less sweet than commercial carrots. In contrast, the purple carrots of Polignano in particular have four times their antioxidant content.

Eating 100 grams of purple carrots from Polignano gives the same benefits as eating 400 grams of carrots commonly sold in the supermarket.

The lentil from the Swabian Jura, Slow Food Sentinel, has exceptional sensory and nutritional characteristics, thanks to a happy combination of soil, climate and local agricultural know-how. Compared to international varieties, this local lentil contains 15-20% more protein and more than twice as much fibre.

The same goes for animal feed. The French Gascony chicken is raised on a pasture-based diet, and thanks to this and the specific characteristics of the traditional breed, its meat is almost three times less fatty, with more protein and less cholesterol, than the average chicken. supermarkets.

These results show how protecting biodiversity and consuming local varieties and breeds can help protect the environment and preserve local cultural traditions, enhance food security and improve the health of the entire population. .

“Our food, our health: Feeding biodiversity to heal ourselves and the planet” is Slow Food’s position paper, examining the current state of our global food systems and how Slow Food works to promote healthy diets.

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