Nutrient density of beverages in relation to climate impact

  • Annika Smedman Uppsala University
  • Helena Lindmark Månsson Lund University
  • Adam Drewnowski University of Washington, Seattle
  • Anna-Karin Modin Edman Swedish Dairy Association
Keywords: Nutrient density, nutrition, nutrition recommendations, climate change, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions


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 % of Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR), in relation to cost in GHG emissions of the production from a life cycle perspective, expressed in g CO2-equivalents, using an index called thethe Nutrient Density to Climate Impact (NDCI) index. The NDCI index is calculated for milk, orange juice, beer, wine, bottled carbonated water, oat drink and soy drink. The NDCI index was similar for milk (1.2), oat drink (1.2) and soy drink (1.3), despite the fact that GHG emissions from milk production were three times higher than for the drinks of vegetable origin. The nutrient density of milk is 117 % of NNR, whereas it is 26 and 44 % of NNR for oat and soy drink, respectively. The NDC index of orange juice was 0.6 and for red wine, beer and carbonated bottled water in the 0.1-0.2 range. 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.

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

(Published: 23 August 2010)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2010, 54: 5170 - DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v54i0.5170


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Author Biographies

Annika Smedman, Uppsala University
Helena Lindmark Månsson, Lund University
PhD and professor
Adam Drewnowski, University of Washington, Seattle
PhD, professor
Anna-Karin Modin Edman, Swedish Dairy Association
How to Cite
Smedman A., Månsson H. L., Drewnowski A., & Edman A.-K. M. (2010). Nutrient density of beverages in relation to climate impact. Food & Nutrition Research.
Original Articles