18 foods to boost your health – and the planet’s – The Guardian

From chicken and kimchi to berries and barley, incorporate these nutritious foods into your diet and we’ll all feel the benefit
The posterboy of vegetables: healthy for your gut and the planet, and easy to grow at home.
Easy to cook, high in protein, fibre and iron, great for our microbiome and very affordable. An easy addition to soups and sauces, and great for young children and babies. They can be grown all year – and help fix nitrogen into the soil.
High in protein and prebiotic fibres. Tinned chickpeas are great in curries, hummus or to roast in the oven as a high-fibre snack. Can also be made into a tofu by blending with water and setting. Good for a healthy gut and planet as they are climate resilient.
Easy to grow and surprisingly high in protein. Great as a snack or to add to dishes.
Great source of fibre, protein and polyphenols. Improve health when consumed regularly and improve blood glucose control. They also require less intensive farming methods.
An underrated source of a multitude of nutrients: mushrooms may reduce chronic disease, improve our vitamin D levels and are a great source of vegetable protein while having a neutral or even negative carbon footprint.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries can be frozen when in season locally, – reducing the transport of berries across continents. Cheap ones are as good as expensive types for fibre and polyphenols.
Whole grains are excellent for longevity and health: nutritious, delicious and with fewer readily available starches causing fewer blood sugar spikes. (Not quinoa, as this not only causes greater sugar spikes, but also impacts Peruvian farmers as they grow masses of quinoa instead of other diverse indigenous plants to meet demand.)
Sustainable and ethical seafood filled with potassium, iron and vitamin B12.
A great source of protein, as well as omega fatty acids, essential vitamins and amino acids. We should aim to eat two to six a week.
Planet-friendly when eaten for its meat and the carcass used to make a broth. Chicken is the most sustainable farmed meat if limited to one chicken a week for a household of four.
Naturally probiotic foods that turn unwanted scrap vegetables into a delicious addition to your meal. High in beneficial fermentation products and prebiotic fibres, and cheap to make.
Hundreds of beneficial chemicals that have proven health benefits. Better when steamed with extra virgin olive oil and eaten with vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes to aid nutrient absorption. A sturdy plant that grows well in all climates.
Packed with polyphenols, even in small amounts they add to the diversity of our fibre intake. Minimal impact on the environment thanks to being easily grown at home. Add a spice mix to any dish to help your gut microbes.
Food for Life by Tim Spector is published by Vintage (£20). To support the Guardian, order your copy for £17.40 at Join the waiting list for the ZOE app at


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