Eating This Food Robs You of 36 Minutes of Healthy Life

Woman with empty plate
Roman Samborskyi /

Every time you sink your teeth into a hot dog, 36 minutes of healthy life goes up in smoke.

The deadly nature of eating franks is among key findings in a new study out of the University of Michigan that calculates the negative impact of eating specific foods.

The study — recently published in the scientific journal Nature Food — is based in part on a new Health Nutritional Index (HENI), which rates the net health burden of foods in terms of how many minutes of healthy life you gain or lose each time you eat one serving.

For the study, the researchers looked at more than 5,800 foods and ranked them on their potential impact on human health as well as the environment.

Hot dogs aren’t the only food that can rob you of some of your healthy life. For example, each time you eat a serving of chicken wings, it can reduce your healthy lifespan by 3.3 minutes.

By contrast, eating other foods actually adds to your healthy lifespan, including:

  • Salty peanuts: Boosts your healthy lifespan by 26 minutes per serving
  • Baked salmon: 16 minutes
  • Rice with beans: 13 minutes
  • Apple pie: 1.3 minutes

Overall, switching 10% of your daily caloric intake from beef and processed meats to a mix of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and select seafood can help you gain an extra 48 healthy minutes each day.

It also reduces your carbon footprint by one-third, the researchers say.

In a press release, Olivier Jolliet, senior author of the paper and professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, says:

“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.”

For more tips on improving your diet, check out:

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