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Food Nutr Res. 2010 Aug 23;54. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v54i0.5170.

Nutrient density of beverages in relation to climate impact.

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Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


The food chain contributes to a substantial part of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and growing evidence points to the urgent need to reduce GHGs emissions worldwide. Among suggestions were proposals to alter food consumption patterns by replacing animal foods with more plant-based foods. However, the nutritional dimensions of changing consumption patterns to lower GHG emissions still remains relatively unexplored. This study is the first to estimate the composite nutrient density, expressed as percentage of Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) for 21 essential nutrients, in relation to cost in GHG emissions of the production from a life cycle perspective, expressed in grams of CO(2)-equivalents, using an index called the Nutrient Density to Climate Impact (NDCI) index. The NDCI index was calculated for milk, soft drink, orange juice, beer, wine, bottled carbonated water, soy drink, and oat drink. Due to low-nutrient density, the NDCI index was 0 for carbonated water, soft drink, and beer and below 0.1 for red wine and oat drink. The NDCI index was similar for orange juice (0.28) and soy drink (0.25). Due to a very high-nutrient density, the NDCI index for milk was substantially higher (0.54) than for the other beverages. Future discussion on how changes in food consumption patterns might help avert climate change need to take both GHG emission and nutrient density of foods and beverages into account.


climate change; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; nutrient density; nutrition; nutrition recommendations

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