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Whole grains as part of a sustainable future

More whole grains are the path to a healthier future for ourselves and our planet. That is the clear conclusion in a new scientific article from a number of leading Nordic nutrition researchers, among others, from the Danish Cancer Society.

Almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions come from our food consumption, so there is a great need for solutions that help us use the earth’s resources in a more sustainable way. A number of leading Nordic researchers from, among others, the Danish Cancer Society have therefore investigated how we can best find environmentally friendly alternatives to the animal protein we typically consume in the form of meat and dairy products. And here, it makes good sense to focus more on whole grains. This is what postdoc, Anne Kirstine Eriksen from the Danish Cancer Society says.

She has participated in the new research that has just been published in the medical journal Nutrition Reviews: “Our analyses show that we could easily replace 20%. of the animal protein with protein from vegetable sources. Here, half could easily come from grain products, and this could be achieved by simply eating three extra slices of rye bread daily. The other half can advantageously come from legumes, such as beans or lentils”, says Anne Kirstine Eriksen.

Anne Kirstine Eriksen emphasises that this approach will make a significant contribution to a healthier future. For ourselves and our planet. Not only do plant proteins not burden our planet to the same degree as proteins from animal products. If we replace animal products with whole grain-based products, it will also lower the risk of both type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and bowel cancer at the population level, she says.

The Danish Partnership Model can Strengthen Health Across Borders

Through public-private partnerships, Denmark has succeeded in significantly increasing the availability of whole grain products and increasing consumers’ knowledge and awareness of whole grain products. This success has only been possible due to the joint efforts of authorities, health NGOs and the food industry. The goal now is to inspire the international community to take similar actions.

In 2008, 31 Danish partners from authorities, health NGOs, businesses and retail created the Whole Grain Partnership. Due to impressive results, the partnership received international recognition in 2019, when the EU Commission honored a number of ’best practice’ initiatives that have contributed significantly to improve public health, and asked Denmark to share its recipe behind its success through a three-year program.

The WholEUgrain project, which is a European action on Whole Grain partnerships, was launched in November 2019 in collaboration with project partners from four countries (Denmark, Romania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina). The aim is to facilitate and transfer some of the Danish best practices for a Whole Grain Partnership to other countries, mainly the countries involved in the project – but also by involving other countries and stakeholders, working to increase the population’s whole grain consumption.

Facts about the Danish Whole Grain Partnership and Whole Grains

  • Every year, the Danish Wholegrain Partnership focuses on Wholegrain. It takes place on the official Whole Grain Day on 21 January.
  • The whole grain partnership consists of the Diabetes Association, the Heart Association, the Danish Cancer Society, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and a number of food companies. Read more here. The partnership tries to improve public health by getting Danes to eat more whole grains.
  • Whole grains are whole grains or processed grains e.g. ground into flour. In other words, whole grains are also used when flour ground on whole grains has been used. The decisive factor is not whether there is whole grain in, but whether the flour is ground from whole grain.
  • Whole grains are whole grains from wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, rice, corn (dried) and sorghum.
  • Whole grains are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting substances that are important in preventing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
  • The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recommends, as part of the official dietary guidelines, that an adult eat a minimum of 75 grams of whole grains a day, while children are recommended to consume 40-60 grams a day.

Source: The Danish Cancer Society (In Danish)